Tax: local firms in Singapore

Allen & Gledhill LLP

Allen & Gledhill LLP's sophisticated tax practice is often sought after by Singapore and international corporate clients, banks, real estate funds, and private equity fund managers for cross-border tax planning and structuring. Department head Sunit Chhabra is a wealth of knowledge on income tax, stamp duty, and goods and services tax matters, with addition to advising on tax implication of corporate and capital markets transactions. He also maintains a busy contentious tax practice where he assists clients in the settlement of disputes with the IRAS. Lim Pek Bur is principally involved in tax and wealth planning for high net worth clients.

Practice head(s):

Sunit Chhabra(Head of Tax)

Other key lawyers:

Lim Pek Bur

Work highlights

  • Advised Frontline on its sale and purchase agreement with Trafigura Maritime Logistics Pte. and certain related entities to acquire 10 Suezmax tankers through the acquisition of a TML special purpose vehicle, in consideration for ordinary shares of Frontline.
  • Advised CapitaLand and CapitaLand Treasury on the establishment of their S$5 billion Euro medium term note programme under which CapitaLand Treasury may issue notes and perpetual notes, which will be guaranteed by CapitaLand.
  • Advised KBS US Prime Property Management Pte. Ltd., as manager of Prime US REIT, as transaction counsel and Singapore legal adviser, on the US$612.0 million IPO  and listing of Prime US REIT on the Singapore Exchange.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow is highlighted for its Singapore and international tax expertise and its multi-disciplinary capabilities across legal, accounting, and transfer pricing in the contentious and non-contentious tax arena. Allen Tan's practice ranges from transactional tax, planning and structuring, wealth management, and tax litigation. Also of note are Dawn Quek for tax structuring and senior associate Jeremiah Soh for disputes with tax authorities and subsequent appeals.

Practice head(s):

Allen Tan

Other key lawyers:

Dawn Quek; Jeremiah Soh

Testimonials

Relevant and advice shared was practical.’

‘Allen Tan offers different options and perspectives. This is important and critical for our decision-making.’

Drew & Napier LLC

Best known for its visibility and reputation in tax disputes, Drew & Napier LLC is the go-to counsel for investigations and disputes with the IRAS, and its appeals to the tax tribunals and all levels of Singapore courts. The practice maintains an active corporate tax practice, advising on income tax, good and services tax, stamp duty, and property tax. Lead partner Ong Ken Loon is also experienced in private tax and wealth succession. Yang Shi Yong specialises in enterprise tax risk management and tax audit, and tax investigations. Ong Sim Ho is known for his courtroom experience in high-value tax litigation.

Practice head(s):

Ong Ken Loon

Other key lawyers:

Yang Shi Yong; Ong Sim Ho

Withers KhattarWong LLP

Praised for its multijurisdictional tax expertise and with a team of tax specialists knowledgeable in the tax regimes across the Asia Pacific as well as the US and UK, Withers KhattarWong LLP is a popular choice for transactional and contentious tax. Of note is Eric Roose who is experienced in the tax implications of cross-border M&A transactions and investments; Leon Kwong Wing and Mahesh Kumar for personal tax.

Practice head(s):

Fernando Gandioli

Testimonials

‘Withers has a team that has very strong technical skills. They are very experienced in advising on Singapore tax matters including fund formations and Singapore concessions. They also have multi-jurisdictional tax capability and experience in the formation of regional fund vehicles. Unlike many of their competitors, when you deal with Withers you are dealing with very senior tax professionals (usually partners). They are the go-to firm in Singapore.’

‘I mainly work with Eric Roose […] outstanding. Not only […] very strong technically, but very commercial. ‘

‘Mahesh Kumar – Very professional and understand our company requirements. Point of contact and he will work with other associates in his firm to provide the most comprehensive advice covering all possible areas the decision can and will have an impact. Very good knowledge of other countries’ legislation. You can trust that advice given has gone through deep thoughts’

Key clients

Pacific Alliance Group

Work highlights

  • Acted as lead tax advisor to PAG SCREP VII Asia-Pacific Real Estate Fund which has a US$2.9 billion in equity commitments.
  • Acted as tax counsel to a Korean investment fund in relation to a Singapore acquisition structure for investment into a Vietnamese hotel, including both asset owning and operating entities.
  • Advised on the establishment of a Singapore structure for the ownership and management of an allocation of assets from within an existing UHNW family office structure.

WongPartnership LLP

WongPartnership LLP's tax team is led by Tan Kay Kheng, and is a popular choice for local and international corporates and individuals for income tax, stamp duty, property, and goods and services tax. The practice is well placed to advise on tax aspects on high-value transactions owing to its frequent collaboration with its wider network of corporate, real estate, and banking lawyers. Tan and Shao Tong Tan are also experienced in tax litigation.

Practice head(s):

TAN Kay Kheng

Other key lawyers:

Shao Tong Tan

Testimonials

The team headed by Tan Kay Kheng has the necessary tax expertise to be over average in the market.’

‘Tan Kay Kheng stands out with his expertise in income tax and property tax.’

Key clients

First Sponsor Group Limited

HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Singapore) Ltd (trustee of Capitaland Mall Trust)

United Overseas Bank Limited

ESR Cayman Limited

Fraser Property Treasury Pte Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for First Sponsor Group Limited in its issuance of perpetual convertible capital securities and warrants carrying rights to subscribe for new shares.
  • Advised Resorts World Sentosa on the stamp duty implications of the expansion of the integrated resort at Sentosa Singapore.
  • Advised Tikehau Capital on the Singapore income tax considerations around the establishment of a joint venture with IREIT-Global (a Singapore based REIT) to acquire Spanish commercial properties.

Dentons Rodyk

Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP's tax advisory practice is experienced in both corporate and individual tax, with key strengths in advising on tax-efficient structuring for investments, transfer pricing, goods and services tax and stamp duty issues related to IRAS. The team is also active in tax disputes. Edmund Leow and Seow Jia Xian are the main contacts.

Other key lawyers:

Seow Jia Xian

Work highlights

  • Advising a major Fortune 500 company on a matter involving in the valuation of certain assets acquired by a Singapore group entity of a large multinational, which affected the amount of capital allowances which may be claimed by the entity in its tax return. IRAS has disagreed with the valuation adopted by the Client.
  • Representing and defending several doctors in Singapore in what appears to be a coordinated attack by the Singapore tax authorities across the medical industry, on the use of corporate vehicles by medical professionals to conduct their businesses.
  • Following a transfer of a Singapore subsidiary in the group pursuant to a restructuring exercise, the practice advised on the Singapore tax structuring advice and in applications to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore to apply for stamp duty relief and to obtain waiver on certain disallowance and relief conditions.

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP's 'experienced and pragmatic tax lawyers' are very visible in tax litigation and building a strong transactional tax offering, strengthened by multidisciplinary expertise in the insurance, capital markets, banking, and technology sectors. The practice is led by Vikna Rajah who is 'well versed with the GST legislation in Singapore'. He also has a good track record in disputes against the tax authorities.

Practice head(s):

Vikna Rajah

Testimonials

‘The Indirect tax partner has great experience, coming from IRAS’s tax litigation team and having been in practice for a number of years. The team has a wealth of clients and good coverage within South East Asia.’

‘Primarily with Vikna Rajah. He has a great CV, lots of confidence, and a good way with clients. His experience, coming from IRAS and now in practice makes him a great client advisor, one of very few in the Singapore market with sufficient credibility to be relevant in the MNC tax litigation space.’

‘The stand-out partner is Vikna Rajah. He is well versed in the GST legislation in Singapore and also has knowledge of the issues faced by businesses. What makes him different is that I do not need to spend much time explaining the issue and the GST legislation that affects the issue on hand. He is able to grasp these quickly and we can then move on to how to bring up the case to a higher level.’

‘The team in Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP comprised of experienced and pragmatic tax lawyers, which understand the issues in-depth and able to comprehend our clients’ tax problems. This leads to clients’ confidence in engaging them to deal with tax advisory and tax dispute resolutions.’

‘The team leads by Vikna Rajah, who is always pro-active, quick in his response and has the ability of hands-holding approach. This gives our clients the comfort that their tax matters are in good hands of the Senior Partner of the department.’

Key clients

The World Bank

Work highlights

  • Assisted Worldbank on the set up of a first of its kind Singapore law governed trust structure for the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility from a trust and tax perspective.