THE maid levy for families with young children and elderly parents will be halved to $60 a month, in a move by the Government to help middle-income households cope with the cost of living.
The new foreign domestic worker levy concession will take effect on May 1. The change comes two years after the last reduction, when it was cut from $170 to $120 a month.
More families will be eligible for the new levy because the cut- off age of children for families that qualify will be raised from below-12 to below-16 years.
These changes are expected to benefit 144,500 households, and will cost the Government $125 million a year.
In announcing them yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said: "These changes will provide greater support for middle-income families who are taking care of their children and elderly parents."
They are among measures in this year's Budget, including tax rebates, that aim to ease the financial burden on such families.
A family eligible for the new maid levy concession can save $720 a year.
Families without young children or elderly parents pay a normal levy of $265 a month.
Part-time taxi driver and insurance agent Ben Lim is among the beneficiaries of the new levy. The 35-year-old and his wife both work, and employ a maid to look after their sons, aged four and six.
The family's combined monthly income is about $4,000.
"With the levy reduced by 50 per cent, it will definitely help us a lot," he said.
Middle-income families like Mr Lim's will benefit most from the cut, said National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan. "Having a maid is a luxury for them because of their income, yet they have no choice but to hire one because both husband and wife work."
Ms Peh Kim Choo, director of the Hua Mei Centre for Successful Ageing, lauded the move for "providing more support to caregivers of the elderly".
She said: "We don't want to see an increasing trend of older people being sent to nursing homes...
Financial support is one way to help caregivers."
Besides families with children, and those with elderly parents aged 65 and older, others with disabled family members also qualify for the levy concession.
The Finance Ministry said yesterday that the new levy will be shown in the levy payment note to be sent to employers of foreign domestic workers from June.
The Straits Times / Top of The News Published on Wednesday, Feb 25, 2015
By Tham Yuen-C, Assistant Political Editor firstname.lastname@example.org