The Government must embrace pro-worker perspectives for income-impacting policies and pro-company approaches for innovation-supportive policies, believes NTUC Freelancers and Self-Employed Unit (U FSE) Director Jean See in Parliament on 3 October 2023.
Ms See gave her speech during the second reading of the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill.
In her speech, she raised the concerns of self-employed drivers about the Fixed Expense Deduction Ratio (FEDR) used to tabulate tax deductions and whether it accurately reflects the climbing operating costs workers bear.
She also urged the Government to work with associations such as NTUC’s Visual, Audio, Creative Content Professionals Association (VICPA) to offer freelancers financial support when they train for new opportunities as companies innovate.
She said: “Local creative freelancers with the right skillsets could create the digital assets for these firms for the metaverse.”
She also proposed that the Government explores offering cash-tight firms less taxing arrangements for innovation-related spending.
The new Bill seeks to allow for automatic tax deductions for self-employed delivery workers based on a prescribed percentage of their annual gross income, among others.
She shared that taxi drivers and private-hire car drivers presently benefit from a similar FEDR arrangement, which frees them from having to calculate their expense figures for yearly tax filing.
However, she noted that these workers were concerned if the FEDR accurately reflects the heightened operating costs, such as higher fuel prices, pricier vehicle leases, and increasing GST.
“These platform workers, therefore, seek assurance from the government that the FEDRs are determined using accurate and complete data,” she said.
Additionally, Ms See suggests adopting pro-worker perspectives regarding data collection.
She shared that workers wondered if the Government’s knowledge of platform workers’ income challenges would translate to more support for platform workers.
“Platform workers thus seek to be assured that the FEDRs would be accurate, complete, and indicative of the operating cost challenges of taxi drivers, private hire car drivers, and delivery workers, for their respective vocations, and as platform workers,” she said.