Demystifying Tax Clearance: Understanding Form IR21

Tax clearance is an essential aspect of any tax system, ensuring that individuals leaving a country have settled their tax obligations before departure. For residents in Singapore, the tax clearance process is managed through Form IR21, a crucial document required by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS). In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Form IR21, its significance, and how it affects individuals planning to leave Singapore.

Understanding Form IR21

Form IR21 is a tax clearance application form that individuals need to submit when they intend to cease employment in Singapore or if they are leaving the country for a period exceeding three months.

This form serves as a declaration of an individual’s intention to leave Singapore and provides crucial information regarding their tax status and liabilities before their departure. The purpose of Form IR21 is to ensure that individuals settle all their outstanding taxes, including income tax and other related obligations, before exiting the country.

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Who Needs to Submit Form IR21?

Form IR21 is typically required for individuals who are classified as tax residents of Singapore and are leaving the country. Tax residents are individuals who have worked or lived in Singapore for at least 183 days in a calendar year or have established their permanent home in Singapore. Non-residents, on the other hand, are generally not required to submit this form, as their tax obligations are usually handled through other means.

Tax Clearance Process

The tax clearance process involves several important steps. Firstly, the employer of the individual intending to leave Singapore must fill out the relevant sections of Form IR21 on behalf of the employee. The employer is responsible for declaring the employee’s income earned up to the date of departure, as well as any tax deductions, exemptions, or rebates applicable to the individual.

Once the employer has completed their portion of the form, they must then submit it to the IRAS at least one month before the employee’s last day of work. The IRAS will then assess the tax liability based on the information provided in the form and issue a tax clearance letter to the employer. This letter will indicate whether the employee is cleared of their tax liabilities or if any outstanding amounts need to be settled.

Payment of Taxes and Clearance

If there are outstanding tax liabilities, the employer is responsible for deducting these amounts from the employee’s final paycheck and paying them to the IRAS. Only after the tax liabilities have been settled will the employee receive their tax clearance, allowing them to leave Singapore without any tax-related issues.

Implications of Not Submitting Form IR21

Failure to submit Form IR21 can result in serious consequences for both the employer and the employee. Employers who fail to comply with the tax clearance requirements may face penalties and legal repercussions.

For the employee, not obtaining tax clearance may lead to difficulties in future dealings with the Singaporean authorities, as well as potential challenges in returning to the country for work or other purposes.


Form IR21 – Tax Clearance is a vital document for tax residents of Singapore who plan to leave the country. It ensures that individuals settle all their outstanding tax obligations before departing, facilitating a smooth exit and preventing any future tax-related issues.

Employers play a crucial role in the tax clearance process by completing and submitting the form on behalf of their departing employees. By understanding the significance of Form IR21 and adhering to the tax clearance process, individuals and employers can navigate the tax system in Singapore with ease and compliance.