Tax: local firms in Singapore

Allen & Gledhill LLP

Allen & Gledhill LLP has a fully rounded tax practice, covering the full spectrum of transactional, advisory and contentious matters. Senior team members have extensive experience in tax advisory and dispute resolution work, frequently working alongside colleagues in the firm’s real estate, capital markets, corporate and other departments. Amongst an array of top quality engagements, the firm continues to impress in highly structured capital markets offerings and big-ticket M&A transactions. Sunit Chhabra is at the forefront of income tax, stamp duty and goods and services tax (GST) matters. Lim Pek Bur specialises in tax and wealth planning for ultra-high net worth clients.

Practice head(s):

Sunit Chhabra

Other key lawyers:

Lim Pek Bur

Work highlights

  • Advised SIA on its S$5.3bn renounceable rights issue of new ordinary shares and the S$3.5bn renounceable rights issue of mandatory convertible bonds.
  • Advised Nippon Paint on the Singapore aspects of its JPY1.285tr acquisition of equity interests in the joint ventures with the Wuthelam Group and the Indonesia business operated by the Wuthelam Group.
  • Advised Singtel and Singtel Group Treasury on the issue of S$1bn subordinated perpetual securities by Singtel Group Treasury under its S$10bn guaranteed Euro medium term note programme.

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow

Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow‘s Singapore office stands out for its team of lawyers, accountants and economists. This gives the firm a distinct edge in key areas such as transfer pricing and international tax planning. The team represents a range of multinationals that have a presence in the state, including US, European, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Southeast Asian entities. Corporate restructurings have been a major feature of the practice during the Covid-19 pandemic. Allen Tan leads the Singapore team, with Dawn Quek standing out for her record in international tax planning for fund managers and high net-worth individuals. Jeremiah Soh impresses at associate level.

Practice head(s):

Allen Tan

Other key lawyers:

Dawn Quek; Jeremiah Soh; Harn Szuan Leng

Testimonials

‘The team cover all tax types unlike the Big 4 where each tax type is managed by different teams.’

‘Very strong overall team for a law firm in the region.’

‘Baker has very strong knowledge in international and domestic tax. They also have a very strong and close relationship with the tax authorities, which is a key asset in many situations. The discussions with Baker are very fluid and Baker always finds solutions to complex situations.’

‘The key competitive advantage of BM is their ability to add on a legal perspective in their tax advice. Also, the global reach of BM and the strength of their people (at all levels) are the key features that differentiate BM from other advisors.’

‘Strong business acumen, ability to understand what the clients need and ability in guiding clients systematically in addressing complex issues.’

‘Allen Tan & Harn Szuan Leng provide practical solutions to businesses rather than the ideal solution.’

‘Dawn Quek is very good to work with and very responsive.’

Drew & Napier LLC

Drew & Napier LLC is frequently singled out as a market leader in tax disputes, although it has built a fully-functioning tax advisory and transactions practice led by a number of senior individuals; this includes enterprise tax risk management and private wealth planning. Ong Ken Loon is an experienced figure in transactions, advisory and disputes, including real estate sector matters and private wealth-related engagements. Ong Sim Ho is another big name in the industry, taking on big-ticket engagements in advisory matters and disputes, and is a pivotal figure in the firm’s growing private wealth practice.

Practice head(s):

Ong Ken Loon

Other key lawyers:

Ong Sim Ho; Yang Shi Yong

Testimonials

‘While the team performs meticulous legal analysis, the solutions provided to us are always practical, sensible and workable. In addition, they turn around very quickly and are accessible to us at all times.’

‘Ong Ken Loon: she is very experienced and knows the people working in IRAS very well including their backgrounds, the experience, how they work and how they are likely to treat your case. She is able to read the government’s approach to tax issues and can also be a useful contact if you have a difficult issue with the government. Her advice is always practical in approach and always sound. In terms of legal research, she is an extremely conscientious lawyer who always does her homework and her numbers and she is always prepared and able to clearly explain the tax impact of the various options so that it is easy to determine which to go for. In terms of negotiations and communications, you cannot get better than Ken Loon as she always knows how to put the arguments across and she is extremely clear and concise.’

‘Ong Sim Ho is someone we are always relying on. He usually takes a novel approach in crafting his solutions and has not failed us in a single matter brought to him in more than 15 years.’

Withers KhattarWong LLP

Withers KhattarWong LLP has a strong Singapore tax capability as part of its broader Asia Pacific and global practice. The Singapore team is increasingly active in Singapore tax structures used by investment funds and Singapore holding structures used by Indian entities and other Southeast Asian clients. Eric Roose is a US tax lawyer, who has practised in Asia for over 20 years, including a long stint in Japan; he continues to have a strong emphasis on Japanese clients and spends part of his time in the Tokyo office. Mahesh Kumar is a leading name in tax structuring for Indian businesses.

Practice head(s):

Eric Roose

Other key lawyers:

Mahesh Kumar; Leon Kwong Wing

Key clients

Pacific Alliance Group as manager of PREP II

Wasted Collective

Frazium Energy

Pacific Alliance Group

PremjiInvest

TeleRadiology Solutions

Indorama group

Smart Energy Water

Planet One Group

Laxai Pharma

Aspire Systems

Thermax Group

Kyoto Pacific Capital

FIFE

Pacific Alliance Group SCREP VII Fund

Work highlights

  • Advised PremjiInvest on an outbound investment structure integrating complex regulatory and tax issues between India and Singapore.
  • Advised Indorama Group on developing a tax-efficient structure for a treasury hub and investment of financial assets.
  • Acted as lead tax advisor to Pacific Alliance Group in over 20 transactions with a cumulative market value in excess of $4bn.

WongPartnership LLP

WongPartnership LLP‘s exceptional corporate and financial institutions client base brings it an array of high-quality transactional, advisory and dispute engagements. The tax team has demonstrated a strong record in capital markets offerings, corporate and M&A transactions, and real estate deals. Tan Kay Kheng is a versatile tax specialist, with strength in both contentious and non-contentious matters, as does key team member Tan Shao Tong.

Practice head(s):

Tan Kay Kheng

Other key lawyers:

Tan Shao Tong

Testimonials

‘Very service minded, very solid and making you feel completely taken care of.’

‘The team keeps itself relevant not just with the law, but how IRAS approaches matters from a policy perspective. It maintains a good relationship with IRAS and hence, is able to articulate clients’ views to them well.’

‘Tan Kay Kheng is knowledgeable probably helped by the fact that he also has an accounting degree. He is able to help clients arrive at decisions based on his confident and comprehensive advice.’

‘Tan Kay Kheng is very responsive and is a true partner in projects. The same seems to appear to apply to his colleagues on the capital markets team. Excellent and service minded.’

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

Be Bright Limited

Keppel Corporation

Lendlease Corporation Limited

Pacific International Lines (Private) Limited

Wave Life Sciences Ltd

Work highlights

  • Acted for Frasers Property Limited in its divestment through a wholly-owned subsidiary, FCL Amber Pte. Ltd., of 50% of the units, via the issue of new units, in North Gem Trust to Bright Bloom Capital Limited.
  • Acted for Avatar Property and Casualty Insurance Company in the issuance by Casablanca Re Pte. Ltd., a special purpose reinsurance vehicle licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, of $65m principal at-risk variable rate notes due 2021 comprised in two classes.
  • Acted for Banyan Tree Holdings Limited in its renounceable and non-underwritten rights issue of $50m convertible bonds.

Dentons Rodyk

Dentons Rodyk has a burgeoning tax practice, mixing international tax planning for multinationals, with a growing pipeline of engagements from UHNW individuals that are moving wealth and assets to Singapore, often from Hong Kong and other parts of North Asia. In this regard, the Singapore team benefits from the firm’s extensive office network across Asia Pacific. The Singapore team is also at the forefront of tax disputes thanks to the presence of department head Edmund Leow SC, who frequently represents multinationals in disputes with IRAS and other dealings with the Singapore tax authorities. Seow Jia Xian provides further senior-level support in both transactional and advisory matters.

Practice head(s):

Edmund Leow SC

Other key lawyers:

Seow Jia Xian

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP

Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP cemented its position as a leader in tax dispute resolution with the hire of Foo Hui Min, the former head of IRAS’s law division. She has joined the leader of the tax department Vikna Rajah, who himself has a background with IRAS and has had a pivotal role in elevating the firm’s status in the tax disputes arena over the last few years. This has led to a significant increase in engagements from large multinationals. Aside from disputes, the department has a flourishing advisory and transactional practice, including a significant uptick in the establishment of family offices in Singapore. It is also known for tax-driven capital markets transactions, including catastrophe bonds.

Practice head(s):

Vikna Rajah

Other key lawyers:

Foo Hui Min

Testimonials

‘This team’s strength is knowledge. The partner, Vikna Rajah, has good knowledge on Goods and Services Tax.’

‘The partner, Vikna Rajah, had extensive experience starting from being the legal counsel for the government authority before being a partner at Rajah & Tann.’

‘The team consistently delivers excellent results within a reasonable fee.’

‘Apart from the technical knowledge and ability, the ability to plan the strategy to handle the issue and know what is to be expected in the case is the biggest strength. The team under Vikna Rajah has that unique ability.’

‘I have worked closely with the Private Wealth practice and Tax practice, both headed by Vikna Rajah. What makes this practice unique is the exceptional level of service and knowledge combined that makes the client journey comparable to no other firm. This is just the best of the best. I personally have been extremely satisfied, as have the clients I have referred to Vikna Rajah.’

‘Vikna Rajah. He is just simply exceptional. Razor-sharp mind. Able to cut directly to the issue, analyse the problems from novel angles and identify the most relevant solution, which is consistently brilliant, to say the least. Just amazing.’

‘The team lead is important. I work with Vikna and find him to be open, collaborative and easy to work with. I am also impressed with the care and time he invests with clients/potential clients to understand and resolve issues.’

Key clients

The WorldBank

Sibghatullah s/o Mohammed Akhtar and Mohammed Abdullah

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

Taxise Asia LLC (WTS Taxise)

Taxise Asia LLC (WTS Taxise) is an emerging presence in the tax sector, having launched in 2020, securing a series of big corporate clients. It has specialist and rounded knowledge, particularly in the advisory segment, notably in the international trade and tax, and transfer pricing fields.  Strategic tax planning for growth companies in the technology sector is a particular forte. Eugene Lim and Irving Aw are key partners.

Practice head(s):

Eugene Lim; Irving Aw