Financial News and Advice in Singapore

How to Calculate GST and Service Charge on Almost Anything You Buy in Singapore

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Counting the actual cost of our meals, inclusive of service charge and GST, can get messy, especially when everyone goes dutch. Here’s an easy way you can calculate the cost for everyone the next time you head out. 

Picture this: Jamie ordered a chicken chop for S$13.50, while Stephanie ordered a sirloin steak for S$23.80. You, on the other hand, ordered a simple aglio olio pasta for S$9.90 because you’re cheap frugal. Here comes the bill. You’re the designated Goods and Services Tax (GST) and service charge calculator for your entire group of friends because everyone sucks at math. 

It wouldn’t make sense to split the bill three ways equally because your order wasn’t as expensive compared to Jamie’s or Stephanie’s. How do you make it fair, then? By calculating the GST and service charge separately for each of your meals. 

How to calculate service charge and GST from your total bill

Forget online GST and service charge calculators. All you need to remember is this formula: x 1.177.

To calculate the price of

  • GST (7%) only: Price x 1.07
  • Service charge (10%) only: Price x 1.10
  • GST and service charge: Price x 1.177

What is GST and service charge in Singapore?

When you buy something in Singapore, you almost always pay more than the stated price.

That’s all thanks to GST and service charge, which is 7% and 10% of the item’s retail price respectively, payable when you get handed the bill at most restaurants and hotels.

At some places, GST may already be factored into the price on the menu, while others may choose to add a “++” at the back of the price to signify these charges. 

Singapore will be raising its GST to 9% in the near future, somewhere between 2022 to 2025. 

Common mistakes made by Singaporeans when calculating GST and service charge 

Singaporeans often multiple their meals by 1.17 (117%), which is wrong. Yes, the difference may be small compared to multiplying by x1.177, but these differences can add up to a significant amount over the years. 

The reason why you have to multiply it by x1.177? As the service charge is taxable, you will have to add the 10% service charge to your item first before it is subject to 7% GST. 

Hacks on how to save on GST and service charge

If you live in Singapore, you should know by now that GST and service charges after meals can cost quite a pretty penny. It is often an unpleasant surprise when you spend only S$40 and the GST and service charge comes up to an additional S$7.07 — that’s a whole meal with drinks at a hawker centre (possibly with change)!

If you’re looking to feast on a budget, check out your neighbourhood kopitiams, AKA coffee shops, or hawker centres as their prices are generally stated as nett. If you want to go to a restaurant, you can also choose to dine at places that are free of GST and service charge such as Peperoni Pizzeria and Nam Nam Noodle Bar. Additionally, look out for signs at restaurants or hotels with the word “nett” after their price.

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By Kendra Tan
Avid promo code hunter and haggler. Kendra doesn’t like paying full price for anything. She’s the best person to bring along if you’re travelling on a budget. Have an interesting story to tell? E-mail me at kendra.tan@singsaver.com.sg