Last updated on February 24th, 2023
If you have eaten at a restaurant or cafe, you may have seen the receipt that has additional charges, such as GST and service charge.
However, if you buy food from other places like McDonald’s, the prices have already factored in GST.
How can you tell when you’ll need to pay the extra charges, and when do you not need to?
Here’s what you need to know, especially when you need to split a bill with your friends:
What does the ++ mean in Singapore?
The ++ sign after the prices of restaurants and hotels signifies the price you are paying before factoring in GST (8%) and service charge (10%). You will need to add both additional charges to the nett price to determine the final amount you need to pay.
Whenever you see a restaurant that displays its prices with the “++” sign behind, you will need to pay service charge and GST on top of the displayed price!
IRAS states that these restaurants and hotels need to inform customers that the prices on the menu are subject to service charge and GST.
This is why the “++” sign is used: to indicate that service charge and GST have not been factored in yet!
What does nett price mean in Singapore?
When you see a nett price being indicated on a menu in Singapore, it means that GST has already been included in the price. You do not need to pay any additional charges, and only need to pay the indicated price.
Nett prices are inclusive of GST. These are usually charged by restaurants that do not impose a service charge on customers.
Here is an example where an eatery only charges the nett price. There were no additional GST or service charges.
If you are looking to avoid paying additional charges, you can consider looking for eateries that charge nett prices.
However, some restaurants may show the price as “$xx nett ++”. In this case, you’ll still need to pay the service charge and GST!
How do I calculate GST and service charge in Singapore?
Here are the 3 main steps of what you’ll need to do to calculate the additional service charge and GST:
- Add 10% (service charge) to the nett price that you are charged
- Add 8% (GST) to the price that you’ve previously calculated (110% of the nett price)
- Determine the total amount that you’ve paid
Here is an example of how this works for the bill below:
- Factoring in the service charge, you’ll need to pay $55.55 (110% x $50.5)
- Factoring in GST, you’ll need to pay $59.44 (108% x $59.99)
A quick way to quickly calculate both GST and service charge is to multiply the nett price by 1.188. This allows you to find the price after adding both the GST and service charge to the price.
In the past, I used to think that the way GST and service charge is being calculated is to multiply the nett price by 1.18. However, this is assuming that the service charge is not being taxed by GST, which is not the case!
Another way you can look at it is by multiplying 1.1 * 1.08. In the end, you will still get 1.188.
Is service charge before or after GST?
The service charge that a hotel or a restaurant charges you is subject to GST in Singapore. As such, you will need to include the service charge (10%) into the bill first, before calculating the amount of GST you need to pay.
Is service charge mandatory in Singapore?
Imposing a service charge is a common practice in Singapore hotels and restaurants. However, it is not mandatory. There are some eateries who do not impose this fee to the customer, and only charge nett prices.
Moreover, there are some restaurants that decide not to charge an additional service charge, and only charge you based on the nett prices!
As such, service charge is not something mandatory. However, most restaurants and hotels choose to impose this fee as a common practice.
The IRAS has also stated that it will not interfere with such business decisions made by these restaurants and hotels.
Can you refuse to pay service charge in Singapore?
You may not have any grounds to refuse paying the service charge to the restaurant or hotel, even if they provided you with poor service. The restaurant or hotel would have clearly stated that the prices are subject to service charge. This means you’ll have to pay this charge irregardless of the service quality.
Restaurants and hotels impose this service charge to you when they provide goods and services to you. If they intend to impose this charge on you, they will have to clearly state it on their menus.
However, this charge does not depend on the type of service that you receive. Even if you experienced poor customer service, you will still have to pay this charge!
Whether the customer should pay for the service charge depends on the agreement between the customer and the business on the price payable for the goods and services provided.IRAS
Based on this, it may be assumed that once you accept the goods and services that a restaurant or hotel offers, you are agreeing to pay the service charge.
I think that the only way you can refuse paying the service charge is if the business did not explicitly state on their menu that you are required to do so.
Who does the service charge go to?
As a general rule, the business owner will decide who gets the service charge. Depending on the business’ policy, it may be split among the business owner, the chefs and the service staff.
There is no hard and fast rule as to who the service charge should go to. It ultimately depends on how the business owner wants to allocate the service charge.
There are some owners who may take the entire service charge, while others may distribute it to the service crew as well.
Is GST applicable for takeaway food?
GST is applicable to all types of goods and services, including takeaway food. Depending on how the restaurant displays the prices on the menu, you may have to pay additional GST charges on the prices displayed on the menu.
When a restaurant imposes a service charge on dine-in customers, they are allowed by the IRAS to reflect the price before factoring in GST.
This is because the service charge is usually only imposed on dine-in customers. For takeaways and deliveries, you will be charged GST, but not service charge.
In this case, there will be a difference in prices that you pay when dining-in or eating out. IRAS has allowed these restaurants to only reflect the GST-exclusive prices to avoid confusion.
If you are ordering a takeaway from such restaurants, you will still need to pay GST on top of the advertised price.
However, there are some restaurants that do not impose a service charge. In this case, they are only allowed to display GST-inclusive prices.
This means that you do not have to pay GST on top of the advertised price.
As such, it depends on whether the restaurant imposes a service charge or not!
Is service charge applicable for takeaway food?
As a common practice, the service charge is usually imposed if you are dining-in at a restaurant. You should not incur this charge if you are ordering a takeaway or delivery from this restaurant.
Most restaurants would only impose the service charge on dine-in customers.
However, if you are just ordering a takeaway or delivery, you technically should not be subject to these charges.
There may be instances where restaurants imposed a service charge even for takeaways, such as Tim Ho Wan in 2013. This should not be the case as the customer was not being served by the restaurant staff.
If you are calculating how much you should be paying your friend after he/she paid the bill, a quick way is to multiply your amount by 1.188.
This will be the total amount that you’ll need to pay, inclusive of both service charge and GST.
However, if the restaurant does not impose a service charge and charges you the ‘nett’ price, you just need to pay back the displayed amount!
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