Intercontinental Properties (Pte) Ltd and Others v Chief Assessor, Singapore

CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeChua F A J
Judgment Date26 August 1981
Neutral Citation[1981] SGHC 16
Citation[1981] SGHC 16
Defendant CounselLoo Lian Ee (Legal Officer)
Plaintiff CounselLim Chor Pee (Chor Pee & Co)
Published date19 September 2003
Docket NumberOriginating Motion No 37 of 1979
Date26 August 1981
Subject MatterWords and Phrases,Revenue Law,ss 2, 6(1), 9, 18 & 19 Property Tax Act (Cap 144),Whether 'building' for purposes for inclusion in valuation list,Effective date,s 9(3) Property Tax Act (Cap 144),Newly-built flats and penthouses,'Building',reg 34(3) Local Government (Buildings) Regulations 1966,'Owner',Property tax,Property Tax Act (Cap 144),Valuation list

The owners of units in `Highpoint`, a twenty-one storey block of luxurious flats situated in Mount Elizabeth, Singapore, which comprises fifty-seven units of flats and two penthouses, appeal against the judgement of the Valuation Review Board (the Board).

The appellants do not dispute the annual values ascribed to their properties, the properties being assessed for the first time, but challenge the extent of their liability for back taxes.

Before the Board two issues were raised for determination, namely, (a) what is the effective date the valuation list should be amended under s 18(2) of the Property Tax Act (Cap 144) (the Act) to include the 57 flats and two penthouses; and (b) what is the date from which the Comptroller of Property Tax (the Comptroller) may recover taxes in respect of the said properties before their inclusion in the valuation list, under the provisions of s 19A of the Act?

The Chief Assessor has by notice under s 18(2) of the Act proposed that the valuation list should be amended to include all the units in `Highpoint` from 1 January 1975 or alternatively in respect of the penthouses only from 31 March 1975 while the Comptroller sought recovery of taxes from the date of the issue of the temporary occupation licences (TOLs).

The Board held that property tax is payable from 8 June 1974, in respect of the fifty-seven units of flats and from 8 December 1974, in respect of the two penthouses.
8 June 1974 was the date when TOLs were granted for the 57 units of flats and 8 December 1974 the date when TOLs were granted for the two penthouses. The Board further held that the chief assessor was at liberty to amend the valuation list to include all the flats and penthouses of `Highpoint` from 1 January 1975.

The facts are not in dispute and they are these.

Work on the construction of the building commenced sometime before 1970 and on 19 April 1974 the architects of the project wrote to the Building Control Div (BCD) of the Public Works Department notifying them that `construction works have been completed in accordance with the approved plans.
` An application was made at the same time for a grant of a `Licence of Temporary Occupation` (TOL) for a period of six months `as it will take some time to obtain all the clearances from the various departments for our submission to you for a certificate of fitness.` The architects further informed BCD that `the project will be handed over to the owners from 1 May`. Accompanying this letter was the architect`s `certificate of supervision of building works` certifying his personal supervision of the erection of the building and that it is `in accordance with the relevant regulations, plans and specifications`.

Regulation 34(3) of the Local Government (Buildings) Regulations, 1966 (No S159/66) prohibits the occupation of new buildings `unless a certificate of Fitness for occupation has been issued for such building`.
A proviso to that Regulation, however, confers on the chief building surveyor a discretion to grant a licence for temporary occupation for a period not exceeding six months `in cases where only minor deviations from the approved building plans in respect thereof have been made and pending full compliance with the requirements of the chief building surveyor before the issue of a certificate of fitness.`

Two site inspections of the building were made by Mr Yap Kwan Hwa, a building surveyor with the BCD on 2 May and 27 May 1974.
On 8 June 1974 he granted TOLs for the fifty-seven units of flats only but not the penthouses as he discovered that there were `major deviations` from the plans in respect of the two penthouses, and for which no amendment plans had been submitted.

TOLs for six months were issued for the penthouses on 8 December 1974 after the submission of amended plans but they were not renewed for the period from 8 March to 6 September 1975.

On 5 August 1974 the architect in charge of `Highpoint` Mr Wee Chwee Heng, issued a `certificate of practical completion` of the project, the purpose of which was to enable the owner/developer `to take over the keys from the contractor`.
According to Mr Wee, upon the issue of such certificate, the developer would notify the purchasers `to make their final payment and collect the keys and take possession of the flats`. This certificate covered the two penthouses notwithstanding his opinion that they were not fit for human habitation `because the walls were not plastered and painted, the sanitary fittings and taps were not fixed and the tiling works were not done and the build-in furniture were not installed.` These works were not carried out then because he was waiting for the approval of the amendment plans which was granted only in September 1975. Demolition of the non-approved staircases leading to the roof garden was completed on 27 October 1975. During demolition work `the penthouses were in a state of mess` he added.

When the TOLs for the penthouses were issued on 8 December 1974 the floors, walls, roofs, doors and windows i.e. `the structural elements` were completed, but not the finishes and services.
After the demolition of the staircases and remedial works had been carried out TOLs for the...

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3 cases
  • Aspinden Holdings Ltd v Chief Assessor and Comptroller of Property Tax
    • Singapore
    • Court of Appeal (Singapore)
    • 11 September 2006
    ...Ee Kim Kin v The Collector of Land Revenue, Alor Gajah [1967] 2 MLJ 89 (refd) Intercontinental Properties (Pte) Ltd v Chief Assessor [1981-1982] SLR (R) 173; [1980-1981] SLR 561 (folld) Irving Brown & Daughter v Smith [1996] 2 EGLR 183 (folld) Robinson Brothers (Brewers), Limited v Assessme......
  • Aspinden Holdings Ltd v Chief Assessor and Comptroller of Property Tax
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 28 April 2006
    ...... notices of assessment in respect of 155 subject properties, more particularly described below. As the facts are not in ...Singapore . On 17 May 2002, the appellant purchased various strata ... at 435 Orchard Road, Singapore, from Wisma Development Pte Ltd. Wisma Atria was strata subdivided in 1989 and is .... 29        Similarly, in Intercontinental Properties (Pte) Ltd v Chief Assessor, Singapore ... owner of one part (either solely or together with others) is not also the owner (either solely or together with the ......
  • Management Corporation Strata Title Plan Nos 1298 and 1304 v Chief Assessor and Comptroller of Property Tax
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 29 November 2005
    ......, affording a physical barrier against intrusion by others. The floor of a Corn Exchange let in stands to corn ... the PTA, Butterworths’ Annotated Statutes of Singapore vol 9(1) (Butterworths Asia, 1998 Issue)  states at ...& Comptroller of Property Tax v Van Ommeren Terminal (S) Pte Ltd [1993] 3 SLR 489 (“ VOT ”) where Chao Hick .... 27        In Intercontinental Properties (Pte) Ltd v Chief Assessor, Singapore ......

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