Covid-19 has affected many people. Music teachers are not spared too. Some of our lessons are stopped. We can’t teach as usual, and hence a fall in income.
Our Singapore government has announced many measures to help our people tide through this crisis.
As The Happy Pianist is one of Singapore’s top piano agency, we work with hundreds of piano teachers, and many of us are freelance teachers.
And I know your concerns too.
“What reliefs can I get?”
“How to apply?”
“Do I qualify or not?”
There are many articles on Covid-19 government reliefs, but none are written for music teachers. Hence I find it important to write this, especially for our own piano teachers.
Many piano teachers have asked me a lot of questions. Now, let me do my best to answer your questions after doing all the research (from real sources of course!).
Answers are valid as of 6th April 2020 after announcement of 3rd Budget, The Solidarity Budget by DPM Heng Swee Keat. If there’s further updates, this page will update accordingly.
Here are the two reliefs that will be applicable to most teachers – Temporary Relief Fund ($500) and Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme ($9000)
1. Temporary Relief Fund
For individuals who lost their job or faced an income loss of at least 30%.
What do you get?
One-time $500 Cash
Who is eligible?
- Singapore Citizen or Singapore PR aged 16 and above
- Gross monthly household income of $10,000 or below or monthly per capita income equal of $3,100 or below
- Not on ComCare assistance.
When can I apply?
Application period between 1st to 30th April 2020.
How to apply?
You can go down to any community centre to apply. But you need to wait and queue. Online application available as of 6th April 2020. (See below for online application instructions)
How to calculate gross monthly household income?
Household monthly income is calculated by taking the monthly income of your family members (sharing the same address as reflected in NRIC) combined together.
How to calculate monthly per capita income?
With the household income, you divide by the number of people in your family members with same address.
If total is $12,000, with 5 family members staying together, then per capita income is $2400 (you qualify!).
Visit this government website to do the calculation: Click here to visit.
What do I need to bring when I apply at a Community Centre?
- Bring your NRIC and supporting documents. You can only apply for yourself.
- Bring supporting documents to show that your income is affected.
- Have PayNow setup because they will pay via PayNow.
If you’re teaching in a music school and you get an email or letter from your boss that there will be a drop in salary or being issued unpaid leave, show this document. You can just show on your phone. No need to print out.
If you’re a freelance music teacher, you can show messages of your parents or students stopping lessons due to the Covid-19. You can just show on your phone. No need to print out.
If you don’t have any documents, you can also go down to apply. They will still ask you to fill up forms and declare your income and information.
How long will they take to PayNow you the $500?
Likely 3-5 working days once approved.
Latest: Online Application for Temporary Relief Fund.
How to apply:
1. Visit this government page : go.gov.sg/temporary-relief-fund
2. Login with Singpass and fill up particulars.
Like your home address and contact details. Below are information you need to prepare.
3. Insert your household income, and your gross monthly income before covid-19.
4. Upload proof of income before covid-19.
This portion is optional, but try to upload any income proof you have. If you’re fully freelance teaching, you can upload receipts you issue to your students for a particular month. If you’re teaching in a music school, you can upload your payslip.
5. Insert income after covid-19, and upload proof.
Uploading proof is optional, but again, try to upload proof of income fall. You can upload screenshots of your parents or students messaging you for stopping of lessons, or music school informing you to go on unpaid leave.
6. Ensure all information is correct and submit.
Once approved, you’ll get the $500 in your bank account via Paynow, paid to you within 3-5 days. We received replies that there are some teachers who is unsuccessful in getting this relief.
This is probably due to lack of proof of income or drop in income. So do gather your income proofs before submitting your application.
Most teachers should qualify for this Temporary Relief Fund. So please apply.
2. Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS)
Singaporean Self-employed persons. (SEPs)
What do you get?
Quarterly cash payouts of $3000 in May, July and October. Total $9000.
Who is eligible? (Latest eligibility criteria on 6th April 2020)
- Started work as Self-Employed on or before 25th March 2020
- Small Income from Employment (Previously is No Employee Income)
- Net Trade Income of $100,000 or below.
- Live in property with an annual value of $21,000 or below. (Previously $13,000)
- Do not own two or more properties
- Assessable income of spouse is $70,000 or below.
When can I apply?
If you’re 37 years old and above in 2020, and you declare positive Self-Employed income to IRAS or CPF Board for work year 2018, you will get the payout automatically.
Otherwise, you need to apply. Application details to be announced. Those who miss some criteria may appeal too. More details to be announced by the government.
Frequently Asked Questions about criteria above:
Started work as Self-Employed on or before 25th March 2020
Qn: How do the government know if I started as a self-employed freelance piano teacher before 25th March 2020?
Some self-employed professionals like taxi-drivers, real estate agents, hawker need to be licensed before they can start work, hence the starting date is very clear. If you have registered your profession as a sole-proprietor with ACRA and you file your trade income with IRAS, the starting date is clear as well.
But to be a freelance piano teacher, you don’t need to be licensed. You can start accept students and start teaching even without registering as a sole-proprietor with ACRA (yes, this is correct!). You just need to file tax by reporting your earnings as trade income every year. And this is what most piano teachers do every year.
So if you have started teaching years ago, and have filed your tax annually, your NOA from IRAS is proof of your starting date as a self-employed person. So you should qualify.
Qn: I only started work as Self-employed in 2019. Am I eligible?
Here’s the tricky one. You started as self-employed in 2019. Right now is 2020, and you want to file your tax for earnings in 2019. But then comes this crisis, and you have yet to file your tax, and IRAS have yet to issue you your NOA also. Which also means there is no proof that you started teaching in 2019. How?
By right, you should be eligible, because you fulfil their criteria of a self-employed before 25th March 2020. However, the challenge is in proving you have started work as a self-employed in 2019. If you can prove, you stand a chance.
Based on my research online, there are comments that SIRS relief online application will be available after 27th April 2020. Meanwhile, the original tax filing deadline for individuals (employees and self-employed) is 18th April 2020. This deadline has been extended to 31st May 2020.
What does this mean?
Here’s my suggestion: You can file your income tax with IRAS for your self-employed income in 2019 now. Submit as early now before 20th April 2020, so that they have record that you are a self-employed in 2019. So when the SIRS relief application is open on 27th April or later, you have fulfilled the criteria of being a self-employed in 2019.
You’re going to file income tax anyway, so submit earlier the better. Filing tax early doesn’t mean pay tax early. But it helps at qualifying for the criteria, especially if you started as self-employed teacher in 2019.
Filing tax for the first-time as self-employed? Read more at IRAS website.
Small Income From Employment (Previously No Employee Income)
*Latest update after Solidarity Budget on 6th April 2020*
You are now eligible if you have small income from employment. How small is small? Your employment income should not be more than $2300 a month. Income criteria revealed on this government page.
If you are teaching private students only or you get students from our music agency, then you fulfil this criteria. Because you do not receive a salary from any music school.
Qn: I teach in a music school, and also teach freelance private students. Am I eligible?
If you’re under contract in your music school with a regular salary, this means you receive employee income. If your employee income is below $2300/month, then you’re eligible.
If you are engaged on a ad-hoc basis, such as doing one-time group class, or piano accompaniment for students in a school only during exam period and get paid a one-time engagement fee, you’re eligible. Because that is not considered a salary.
Qn: If I’m employed by a music school, what relief can I get?
Music schools will get a relief from the government, in the form of Job Support Scheme. The government will co-fund 25% of the first $4600 of your monthly salary for the school, for 9 months. Co-fund 75% for entire of April. (As announced in Solidarity Budget)
The government give support to the music school so to encourage them to keep their employees (you, the teacher). This relief is for your music school to keep you as a teacher (which means to continue to pay you salary) during this tough period.
Live in property with an annual value of $21,000 or below. (Previously $13,000)
Qn: How to check the annual value of my property?
Most accurate way to check, is to login to IRAS MyTax portal. Click this link.
Check under ‘View Property Portfolio”
Based on government data, the median annual value of all HDB flats in 2018 is $9,600.
Here’s a breakdown by property size and type and the median annual value.
1 or 2 Room: $5100
3 Room: $7860
4 Room: $9600
5 Room: $10,380
Executive & Other: $10,680
This means if you stay in HDB, even for 5 room or larger HDBs, you will likely be eligible. As of 6th April, you are eligible if your AV is $21,000 and below. Meaning if you stay in condominiums, you may qualify now. So do check your IRAS account for exact AV of your property.
Qn: What if I stay with my parents and we stay in condominiums or landed?
That means the government will take the AV your parents’ property. Yes, this may seem unfair, but that’s the guideline for now. Many people have voiced out this as well. If you miss this criteria, you may appeal too.
Assessable income of spouse is $70,000 or below.
Qn: What is assessable income?
Based on government definition, assessable income is the total income minus allowable deductions (like expenses, donations).
Let’s say your spouse earn $7000 a month. Annual income will be $84,000.
Let’s say the tax deductibles is $15,000 (NS Relief, Parent Relief…etc)
So your spouse assessable income is $69,000 (you qualify!)
Qn: What if your spouse assessable income is higher? And you also have kids to support? This criteria is quite unfair right?
The government have received feedback about this as well, so they are open for you to appeal.
Most teachers should be eligible for the Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme, but may miss out on 1 or 2 criteria. Many other freelancers of other professions have voiced out their concerns too, hence you can appeal for it once announced.
Still confused with the criteria? You can check out this website by NTUC, where it explains to you the SIRS eligibility one by one.
I hope this posts help you understand more about the government reliefs that will help you tide through this tough period. Feel free to share with any other music teachers to help them too.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below. or contact us here. We will try to help 🙂
This post will be updated when there are new measures announced.