TPC Law strength­ens tax law prac­tice

More and more com­pa­nies, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, and high net worth in­di­vid­u­als are dis­cov­er­ing the ben­e­fits of cus­tomised in­te­grated ad­vice and so­lu­tions.

Singapore Business Review - - FIRST -

Tan Peng Chin LLC (TPC Law), one of the top 25 largest law firms in Sin­ga­pore, has fur­ther en­hanced its ca­pa­bil­i­ties by en­gag­ing Liu Hern Kuan, to ad­vise on tax mat­ters to its clients. He was pre­vi­ously Prin­ci­pal Le­gal Of­fi­cer, then Chief Le­gal Of­fi­cer at In­land Rev­enue Au­thor­ity of Sin­ga­pore (IRAS) (2000 to 2014), and also Head of Tax in a ma­jor lo­cal law firm in Sin­ga­pore (2014 to 2017). He was, prior to join­ing IRAS, a tax man­ager in PWC and KPMG.

Hern Kuan’s prac­tice in­cludes re­solv­ing both crim­i­nal and civil dis­putes with IRAS, and trans­ac­tional work in­volv­ing tax plan­ning and struc­tur­ing, ap­pli­ca­tions for tax re­lief to IRAS and Min­istry of Fi­nance (MOF) on all taxes ad­min­is­tered by IRAS. While at IRAS, he was in­volved in pro­vid­ing all man­ner of le­gal and tax ad­vice to IRAS’ op­er­a­tional di­vi­sions, tax law in­ter­pre­ta­tion, tax rul­ings, in­ter­na­tional mat­ters, au­dit, in­ves­ti­ga­tion, crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion mat­ters, en­force­ment pro­ceed­ings and draft­ing of tax leg­is­la­tion.

He had also rep­re­sented IRAS as lead coun­sel in civil and crim­i­nal court pro­ceed­ings in the var­i­ous boards of re­view and the Supreme Court. As IRAS’ lead coun­sel, he ar­gued sev­eral land­mark In­come Tax, Prop­erty Tax and Stamp Duty cases.

Land­mark cases

Such cases in­clude CIT v AQQ, the first de­cided case on tax avoid­ance where a for­eign listed com­pany was found to be en­gag­ing in tax avoid­ance; and JD Pte Ltd v CIT, where the Court of Ap­peal af­firmed IRAS’ to­tal as­sets method for ap­por­tion­ing de­ductible in­ter­est ex­penses of a listed in­vest­ment hold­ing com­pany.

An­other case was CIT v IA, a case on de­ductibil­ity of bor­row­ing costs in con­nec­tion with a syn­di­cated loan taken by a prop­erty de­vel­oper. He was also a coun­sel in T Ltd v CIT, a case on com­mence­ment of busi­ness for tax de­ductibil­ity pur­poses. Also in­cluded in his long list of cham­pi­oned cases is City De­vel­op­ments Ltd v Chief Asses­sor, where the Court of Ap­peal af­firmed the Chief Asses­sor’s ap­pli­ca­tion of the 5% method of as­sess­ment over the hy­po­thet­i­cal ten­ancy method. Hern Kuan also ar­gued Clif­ford Devel­op­ment Pte Ltd v Com­mis­sioner of Stamp Du­ties, a case on the mean­ing of ‘re­con­struc­tion’ for the pur­poses of stamp duty re­lief, and AQP v CIT, which tack­led de­ductibil­ity of ex­penses from de­fal­ca­tion of funds by manag­ing di­rec­tor of a com­pany.

Out of court tax dis­pute set­tle­ments

Hern Kuan had, in pri­vate prac­tice, man­aged to suc­cess­fully re­solve sev­eral sig­nif­i­cant tax dis­putes out of court. Such dis­putes in­cluded con­vinc­ing the Comp­trol­ler of In­come Tax (i) to al­low a multi-mil­lion dol­lar tax de­duc­tion claim by an en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion com­pany, (ii) to al­low a trans­fer pric­ing ad­just­ment in­volv­ing a US multi-na­tional cor­po­ra­tion and (iii) that cer­tain mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar gains on the sale of shares are not tax­able gains. He had also suc­cess­fully ob­tained ex­ten­sions to pay Ad­di­tional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) on be­half of de­vel­op­ers who de­velop res­i­den­tial prop­erty for sale. The out­comes for these cases were pre­ferred by clients as these were achieved with­out hav­ing to lit­i­gate the dis­putes in courts.

Hern Kuan is also in­volved in pro­vid­ing tax plan­ning ad­vice that in­cluded in­ter­na­tional tax plan­ning and tax ef­fi­cient struc­tur­ing for stamp duty re­lief.

In­te­grated le­gal and tax ad­vice

Of­ten a busi­ness deal has both le­gal and tax im­pli­ca­tions and hav­ing tax ex­per­tise would en­hance the ser­vices a law firm can of­fer to clients. The prac­tice of tax law in­volves pro­vid­ing ad­vice on the struc­ture of a va­ri­ety of com­mer­cial and fi­nanc­ing trans­ac­tions and as­sist­ing clients with taxre­lated con­tro­ver­sies.“The in­creased lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional tax ca­pa­bil­ity of TPC Law will al­low us to bet­ter pro­vide in­te­grated le­gal and tax ad­vice to our clien­tele and busi­ness part­ners which in­clude lo­cal and for­eign fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, prop­erty de­vel­op­ers and man­agers, and re­tail, in­sur­ance-linked and pri­vate funds. We aim to be our clients’ pre­ferred choice as the le­gal and tax part­ner when they do busi­ness in or from Sin­ga­pore,” says Wong Liang Kok, Joint Manag­ing Di­rec­tor of TPC Law.

“The prac­tice of Tax law in­volves pro­vid­ing ad­vice on The struc­ture of a va­ri­ety of com­mer­cial and fi­nanc­ing Trans­ac­tions and as­sist­ing clients with Tax-re­lated con­tro­ver­sies.”

Liu Hern Kuan, con­sul­tant, and Wong Liang Kok, joint manag­ing di­rec­tor, TPC Law

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