Monday, January 23, 2012

Galleries Galore Part 3: IRAS Gallery

Taxes. It's that ONE thing that you can't avoid in life. Everyone in Singapore pays taxes. Majority of us pay the usual tax that involves paperwork. Nowadays, we can just do it online. Young people don't really have to do paperwork (like me) but we still pay taxes indirectly with the Goods And Services Tax (GST). Look on the bright side though, taxes are what help Singapore a better place. Most of the infrastructure and public works come from the taxes we pay.

With the IRAS Gallery, we get to find out about the history of taxes, the different kinds of taxes and why we have to pay taxes.

The location is quite inconvenient. The small gallery is located in Revenue House which is the the headquarters for the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore or IRAS for short. The IRAS is the government agency that collects most of the taxes. Once I got into the building, I didn't know how to get into the gallery so I got out and found the door so I can enter from the outside. But no luck. The sign says enter by the inside of the building. Finally, I entered the gallery but first I will need to pass by a pharmacy-like place where people wait to pay for their taxes.

First off, the gallery is considerably small and not that exciting and there's no noise at all unlike the previous two galleries I have visited. Many of the things here are those types of galleries where you find chunks of text with a load of pictures. Yes, it may be boring but if you were to actually read the chunks of text, you'll get interested. Plus, there are also some exhibits where you get to view the tax equipments of the past and present.

They also have these tax trails where you look at the floor, follow the red line and read up on something that's related to tax as seen from this picture above. For example, if I want to find out about Tax and the Singapore Story, just follow the red line and they'll bring me to a chunk of text that'll explain to me the tax story. It's quite a cool concept.

You can also follow the timeline about the story of Singapore taxes and also the history of it. Do you know that there are several taxes that the IRAS doesn't collect? For example, the Duty or Customs Tax is collected by the Singapore Customs and Road Tax is collected by the Land Transport Authority. These are some little known facts that you may not know but will find out here at the gallery.

Also back then, there was a time when traders have to pay taxes when they arrive in Singapore. Some things such as opium and gambling were charged with tax. These were collected by the then British Colony in Singapore.

What I liked about the entire gallery are these interactive displays which you can play with. No they're not touch displays but they're usable. You can pull the file to see how the staff file your taxes and paperwork, you can flip the cards to know more about how everything was organised back then and more. You can even pull the drawer to check out the artefacts and paperwork. 

Lastly, there are a few artefacts like stamps, stamp machine, calculators and more that staff used to use to file the taxes and organise the paperwork. It's quite an interesting place to find out more about taxes. What I didn't like about this place is that the touch displays were switched off and I can't play any games of some sort. Still, the place is quite small and quite cool. Unlike other galleries, I don't think this would be a great place to bring your family along.

The IRAS Gallery is free and opens every Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm and Saturdays from 8am to 1pm at Revenue House along Newton Road opposite Novena Square.  Do stop by the gallery if you're there to settle some taxpaying. It's accessible with a few bus services passing by the building and it's near shopping malls like Novena Square, United Square and Goldhill Centre.

The Galleries Galore Series

Part 1: Singapore City Gallery
Part 2: HDB Gallery
Part 4: Marina Bay City Gallery

Getting Here 

Bus services available: 21, 56, 57, 131, 166, 851, 980 (Bus stop outside Novena MRT Station)

Nearest MRT Station: NS20 Novena MRT Station (North South Line)


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