Why must we pay maid levy?


“Anonymous 10/01/2012 4:26 PM

What type of help are we entitled to – are we beggars? You profess to want to support the caregivers of the elderly and disabled. What help is it when the maids that we need to look after them are taxed (levy). We still pay $170 after the Levy Concession of $95. And the costs of FDWs are going up all the time.

Now you come out with a Foreign Domestic Workers Grant (FDWG) of $120 per month from the MCYS. It is exactly like taking from one hand (levy) and giving back with the other (grant). Moreover to get this grant we need to jump through multiple hoops – means testing, doctor check, maid training, even if we satisfy all the requirements. This grant has been approved for only 50 care-givers so far, and a lot of song and dance has been made on this.

Get rid of the FDW Levy altogether, for looking after the frail, elderly and disabled, if you are really sincere in wanting to “help”. The government is profiteering from this, which makes it a hypocrite.” Unquote


I came across the above comment on Tattler’s blog. Basically, the commenter is saying that the government should not give grant on one hand and impose tax (levy) on the other hand with the nett result that the government still gains from the urgency of employing maid to look after an invalid parent. Is it right and proper to “make money” from low income earners? (Households who wish to apply for this grant must have a per capita monthly income of $2,200 or less) Is it right and proper to “tax” filial piety when I employ maid to look after my parents? I am not asking for free hand-outs from the government. Neither am I asking the government to look after my invalid parents. No. I am paying from my own pocket to employ a maid to look after my invalid parents so that I could go out to earn a living. Given the circumstances, why should I be taxed by the government? Why is the government so ‘hard-up’ on this revenue – tax on filial piety. Is it right and proper?

What is worker levy actually? From my understanding, it is a levy (a form of government tax) imposed on foreign workers seeking employment here. It is not only a form of revenue for the government but could also be used as a tool to control the population of foreign workers. It works hand in hand with foreign worker quota. For example, every foreigner you employ, you will need x number of locals. Even if you fulfill the foreign worker quota requirement, all foreign workers are still subject to tax. This is to encourage businesses employing more locals so that they need not pay the foreign worker levy. In principle, it is a necessary tool to regulate and control the population of foreign workers in our country. It also protects locals from being priced out by cheaper foreign workers.

The above is applied to all sectors of the economy where there are foreign and local workers. But why is it applied on maids? I am referring to foreign domestic workers. (maids) Do we have local maids? In other sectors of the economy, we have foreign and local workers. But for maids, have you heard of any local working as household maid? Is there any quota for maids? What is the rationale for paying levy on maids? In other countries, there is no levy on maids. Why do we have it here? To bring in more revenue for government coffers?

I don’t employ maids. I won’t know much about maids. But the day may come when I have no choice but to employ a maid to look after my invalid parents. If I earn sightly more than $2,200 per month, I am not entitled to any grant. I will have to pay the full amount of levy (tax) on a maid. It is clearly a form of revenue for the government. How could I afford it? I will face financial hardship for sure. It is pure common sense. Do I have a choice? What can I say?

Maybe, the government thinks that by imposing a levy on foreign maids is to control the number of foreign maids here. They do not want every family to own a maid. If that is the case, then the government will have to assess the needs of each family. If I earn about $2,500 a month and I really need a maid to take care of my invalid parents, I should not be paying the levy if the government is sincere in helping citizens like myself. It is also not cheap to send our invalid parents to the old age home unless like someone suggested send them to JB nursing homes instead which are much cheaper! No GST and no levy!

Our income tax or GST may be low, but there are all kinds of indirect taxes. COE, ERP, cigarettes & beer tax, water & electricity tariffs, WC waste disposal, refuse tax, property tax, used to be TV & Radio licence fees, fines or surcharges for late payment of bills, petrol & diesel tax, All kinds of licences eg selling liquor or cigarettes, hawkers, entertainment licence, security airport tax, etc etc. What about all the fines collected on petty offences such as illegal parking even though no obstruction is caused etc. In other words, there are one hundred and one taxes & fines around you; just like a minefield where you’ve to walk carefully. One wrong step, it might explode on your face and blow away a limb or two! It’s getting rather stressful and headache living here.

Hence, if you read at the comment quoted above, you will notice the bitterness, frustration and helplessness of the writer. Why must we pay maid levy? Why give grant on one hand and then put terms and conditions or obstacles if one wants to apply for the grant? The needs and urgency of getting a maid to look after invalid parents so that the children could go earn a living far outweighs the need for revenue right? Most of the citizens feel that the government is always looking at ways and means to “tax” everything from the people.

With reducing earning power due to the massive influx of foreign workers, high costs of living, aged parents to look after and higher levy on maids getting more expensive, people like us earning between $2,500 to $3,000 are the hardest hit. It is citizens within this income bracket – majority of heartlanders are falling through the crack. Pls do not say that we could apply for government grant on a case by case basis when “we need to jump through multiple hoops!” like what the writer said.

Think about it for a moment – Just forget about taxes on certain things. Levy on maid for lower income needy families is a case in point. Do not get addicted to taxes and levies on all things thinkable. Just do your part by spending tax payers’ money prudently and stretch every dollar. Like I used to say if you earn $10,000 a month but spend lavishly on high dinning, clubbing and luxury goods, money sure not enough. It is the same with government expenditure. If you harbour the morbid mindset bent on buying $2,200 bicycles or office chairs costing hundreds of dollars with lofty justification, surely money is not enough? Even my 13-year old boy knows this fact! But some don’t and still insist it is worth it; value for money. Langgar.

Needy families to get monthly $120 maid grants

Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012

SINGAPORE – More than 6,000 households will receive $120 per month over the next five years under the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant when it starts this October.

The grant will provide support to families whose domestic workers help to take care of family members who are frail or with moderate disabilities.

Households who wish to apply for this grant must have a per capita monthly income of $2,200 or less.

For those with no income, the annual value of their property should be less than $13,000.

In addition, the foreign domestic worker must be taking care of an elderly person or person with disabilities who have been assessed as having at least moderate disabilities by a panel of general practitioners.

For instance, they require assistance with activities such as showering, bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, transferring or mobility.

The estimated budget for the grant over the next five years is $25 million.

It was first announced by Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mdm Halimah Yacob, at the MCYS Committee of Supply debate in March this year.

Mdm Halimah said the grant will help alleviate the cost of families who hire Foreign Domestic Workers to take care of frail or disabled family members.

“As caring for the frail elderly and disabled can be challenging, I also hope that more families will send their foreign domestic workers for training so that they can be better equipped to serve as caregivers,” she said.

Households will need to send their foreign domestic workers for relevant training in care giving.

The existing Caregivers Training Grant (CTG) can be used by eligible persons to defray the cost of training.

The grant is now open for application. Application details for the FDWG are currently available at CEL’s website (www.cel.sg).

Households currently receiving the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession will also receive a mail package containing information on the application procedure and the necessary application forms in the next few weeks.



About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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21 Responses to Why must we pay maid levy?

  1. For the daft says:

    The levy on maids is to discourage people, whether rich or poor, from employing maids. The government is indirectly trying to tell you to look for other solutions first, before getting a maid as a solution.
    Of course it is politically incorrect to publicly say in this way lah. But anyone who is not daft will realise the message.
    Just like cannot call casinos as casinos what, it is “integrated resorts” for the daft.

  2. agongkia says:

    Lucky I not Cheng Hoo…
    for I will only allow those with elderly ,toddler,dementia or physically or mentally family member at home to have maids only if they can prove that both son and daughter in law need to work to support them and is unable to take care of them, without collecting any levy because of these circumstances.

    But will recover from those career women earning their so claim high income or tai tais spending their times at karaoke,shopping,IRs,gossiping and comparing themselves from Cecilia and Amy Yip everyday and fail to do their duty to take care of their in laws or lazy to do house chores .Allow them to have a maid on a case to case basis and pay a levy of minimum ten times the levy and maybe ,should also have COE for foreign maids.

    Taking care of our elder or weak at home is our duty as a child and getting a wife should be for that purpose and should not leave it to the maid just becos we can afford.It is the duty of DIL but sad to see many get FM and work at a salary just enough to pay for the FM.
    I am a local working as a part time maid.

  3. Seraphim says:

    I do agree that taxing on the domestic workers seem wrong and unjust.

    However we also need to take note of people who might take advantage of the loop holes in the system if the government do not tax them the way it is now.

    There are many ways to exploit it. For example, a boss hired 10 university educated ‘maids’ to work at his house on paper, but they were working in his company. A company of 10 share holders hire a few ‘maids’ each or even ask their employees to hire ‘maids’ on paper and the ‘maids’ were hired to work for that company. These exploitation will allow the workers will to become a lot more ‘competitive’ as they are exempted from the foreign worker tax. and do not appear on the company’s employee list. (Which can result in even more exploitation)

    More laws and regulations will have to be reviewed and considered before the government really lift the tax regulation.

    • paul says:

      How the hell do you hire 10 maids??? hire a 2nd already need to proof/evidences to justify your needs. a 3rd maid would be even near impossible, also, the maid live in the households, unless you own 5 houses (or 4 other shareholders as you mentioned) under different names and hire 2 maids each (provide MOM approved), then u can get 10 maids. Is this what u consider easy to exploitate? You are asking your shareholders to illegal deployed maid (and risk getting caught) to work at your company and you call this easy exploitation???

      • Seraphim says:

        I know of a place that actually have 2 ‘maid helper’ as employees (But lets not sabo them since its just a family business) and companies in Singapore are already hiring phantom employees to meet the quota of Citizen/PR/FT. I do not see why they will not resort to such tactics if ‘maids’ are cheaper.

        I did not say it was easy, but it is possible to make use of the loopholes that is not spotted. It may not be the examples above, but there will be other methods available. That is also why I felt that it should be studied more before you really abolish the levy altogether.

        • If you read carefully, I said abolish maid levy for those really in need. Urgent need to get a maid to take care of invalid parents esp for those earning not much like those below $3,000. I keep saying the govt is taxing our filial piety. That is the main msg I’m saying. The govt can always screen and check on how the maid is being deployed. Whack those who misuse the policy.

    • And how will imposing maid levy address this problem of employers hiring domestic workers for non domestic work?

      • Seraphim says:

        At least it discourages employers from attempting to exploit it in large scale, since maids and foreign workers cost the same levies.

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  5. I have a maid. I cannot find any good reasons for maid levy. My thoughts are the same as gintai. Foreign workers levy are there to control foreign workers population from ever rising due to employers frivolously getting foreign workers and therefore denying Singaporeans who could fill the job. Is there any local stay-in domestic worker?

    To be fair, I do note that FDW levy has dropped over the years. When I first got the maid, the levy was $200 plus, I think. Can it be reduced further or dropped entirely? How about a token $1 if it’s all about administrative bureaucratic matter of maintaining the foreign workers database?

    • $1 is too low. I suggest $10 or maybe $50? That is more reasonable for their admin fees or costs. You shld know that when you step into any govt dept or stat board, it’s always paying a fee for admin purpose. Everything also must pay. It’s been drilled into our minds! Education, hospitals, applying for SP services, HDB registration for anything etc etc all also must pay lah. It’s taken for granted already by the citizens as a fact of life. Eg if you drive, be prepared for some budget to pay fines such as illegal parkings cuz there are enforcement officers waiting to ambush you!

      • We don’t say Pay And Pay for no reason :p

      • patriot says:

        Not really lah, no payment needed when Police Service is required.


        • The day may come when you need to pay for police service. As it is, some organizations when having big function request for traffic and crowd control are told to engage Cisco which is commercial police.

    • transformer says:

      ape ah ape!
      when this cb cheng hoo charges you about $30 administrative charges for using your own cpf money on every transaction, do you really think that all these si-lang kia will consider charging you anything less than that for levy?

  6. auntielucia says:

    Actually what riled me more about the supposed grant for elderly incapacitated parents is the fact that peeps living in a home that’s above a certain annual value ($13K, I think) don’t qualify. Then after I got over that unhappiness, I received a set of form from MCYS asking me to apply. I felt happy — only to feel most annoyed and disappointed when I read thru the forms and saw that the AR value of homes still applies. So I am out!

    Why waste tax payers money by sending every household a stack of forms, when from my address it should be quite obvious that i won’t qualify? or is MCYS’ computer not talking to IRAS computer? And of cos why create needless frus among Singaporeans with G when there’s no need?

    • Yes. Also based on annual property value of $13K. How can the govt tax citizens for being filial piety? Does it make any sense? Everything also must tax if not they can’t sleep lah! That’s the problem with them. Habits die hard. It’s hard for them to change their mindset esp they are so hopelessly addicted to taxes – tax the people for every thinkable excuse! Sigh !

      • patriot says:

        Wat no sense?

        There is such a thing call money sense.

        Not jus maid levy, COE leh? Vehicle
        Population control no other option when so many suggestion and idea were/are floating in Blogoland. They
        jus pretend to be blind and deaf.

      • milk=tax says:

        These white shits are running our country like a listed company. They treat every citizen as cow. They just love milking us non-stop. The more they squeeze us the more milk they get. 60% enjoy being squeeze. What to do?

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