Dogs, Taxes and Shanmugam

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Law and Foreign Affairs Minister steps in to help animal welfare group Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD).

K_Shanmugam_(cropped)

If there is one thing all Singaporeans should know about Law & Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, it’s that he is an animal lover.

Not surprising, since he volunteered to lend SOSD a helping hand not once, but twice.

Lately, SOSD ran into some difficulties while filing for taxes for the donations it received between April 2012 and end March – days before it became a registered charity organisation.

When the group’s president, aesthetician Dr. Siew Tuck Wah, approached minister Shanmugam for help the second time, the minister made an appeal to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore on basis that the group had made a “technical error” on how it classified the donations received.

Needless to say, the outcome was a positive one – SOSD received a wavier of its $10,070 tax bill – with the charity organisation expressing its gratitude to the minister online via its Facebook page. The group went on to explain in a post that had minister Shanmugam not intervened, it would be asked to pay hefty taxes which would put a strain on its finances. This in turn would have affected its day-to-day rescue operations and compound the group’s plans to restore its SOS hotline.

In the worst case scenario, SOSD might be forced to shut down its operations due to a lack of funds.

Since its inception in July 2011, SOSD has relied on public donations to drive its operations and cover its average monthly operating expenditure of $25,000.

According to SOSD’s website, the donations are channeled into the boarding of stray and abandoned dogs at its shelter in Pasir Ris Farmway 2, rescue work, veterinary bills and paying the monthly wage of one full-time staff. The rest of its 150 members are volunteers.

In the meantime, SOSD will press on with its efforts to raise more funds for its new shelter which costs $5-million. The new shelter will replace SOSD’s current shelter, whose lease will expire in two years’ time.

Minister Shanmugam, who owns four pet dogs, told local media he chose to be involved with the cause not because he is a pet lover and owner, rather, because that as a society, how we treat our animals says something of us.

Sometime in the middle of this year, the Commissioner of Charities had rejected SOSD’s application to be registered as a charity organisation. It was only after Dr. Siew Tuck Wah approached the minister for help did the application got through. Otherwise SOSD would not have existed. At all.