WORKING MOTHERS UNDER SCRUTINY
At least five MPs raised concerns about the Working Mothers’ Child Relief, which will change from a percentage of earned income to a fixed sum from 2025.
They flagged that while the move will benefit lower- to middle-income mothers, the majority of working mothers – those who earn more than S$54,000 a year – will get less tax relief.
Mr Louis Chua (WP-Sengkang) said that by his calculations, 80 per cent of mothers will either be unaffected or worse off. The other group who would be better off are those earning between S$2,610 and S$3,810 a month, while unwed single mothers also do not qualify, he noted.
Instead, he proposed a “motherhood tax rebate” for working mothers earning below a certain income.
Ms Jessica Tan (PAP-East Coast) also suggested a hybrid approach where mothers who earn less than S$54,000 a year can receive the new fixed amount, while those who earn more continue to receive a percentage of their earned income. This is because the amount of personal income tax relief an individual can claim is capped at S$80,000, she said.
Ms Soh similarly suggested that the Government offer both the percentage of earned income and fixed quantum, and give working mothers the higher of the two.
She also asked if there were plans to make the sharing of maternity and paternity leave between parents more flexible, to accommodate different family situations.
Mr Chua questioned if fathers will feel comfortable taking the additional two weeks of Government-paid paternity leave, since only more than half of fathers take the current two weeks.
In a similar vein, Mr Darryl David (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) proposed that parents get at least three days of childcare leave every year until their children turn 18. At the moment, parents get six days of paid childcare leave until their child turns seven.
Meanwhile, PAP’s Mr Xie suggested that parents get a “Child Development Bonus” in cash annually for every child they have, which will go beyond the Baby Bonus cash gift and contributions to their children’s Child Development Account (CDA).
Mr Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) also suggested allowing parents to draw on CDAs for essential items like infant formula or diapers from authorised retailers.
Ms Tin Pei Ling (PAP-MacPherson) called on the Government to increase the number of childcare places and train more teachers for children with special needs.