38 Oxley Road: Charitable tax deduction & equal shares of the estate?

Tax Receipt Deduction Charity Donation Donate

I refer to the article “38 Oxley Road dispute: A look at the key issues” (Sunday Times, Jun 18).

It states that “Mr Lee Hsien Yang owns the house.

The property was initially bequeathed to PM Lee. His siblings were unhappy about this, so he proposed transferring the house to Dr Lee for a nominal sum of $1, he said in the statement. This was on condition that if it was transacted later or acquired by the Government, all proceeds should go to charity.

But an agreement could not be reached until late 2015, when PM Lee transferred ownership of the house to his brother instead at market value. In addition, the brothers each donated half the value of the house to eight charities named in Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s obituary notice.

Separate from the agreement, PM Lee said he also gave to charity an additional amount worth half the value of the house. The sum was not disclosed, but conservative estimates in 2015 put the value of the plot at $24 million.

As part of the agreement, all three siblings issued a joint public statement in December 2015, saying they hoped the Government would allow their father’s wish for the demolition of the house to be honoured. That statement also said that PM Lee had recused himself from all government decisions involving the house, and, in his personal capacity, hoped to see his father’s wish honoured.”

If the house is valued at say $24 million – does it mean that Lee Hsien Yang paid $24 million to Lee Hsien Loong, and Lee Hsien Yang donated $12 million and Lee Hsien Loong donated $24 million to charity?

Also, does it mean that Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Hsien Loong may get the 250 per cent charity donation income tax deduction of $30 million (effective reduction of $6.6 million on the tax payable) and $60 million (effective reduction of $13.2 million on the tax payable), respectively?

As I understand that the beneficiaries were given equal shares of the estate – does it mean that the joint executors and trustees of the will (Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling) together with the beneficiaries. may make a reconciliation of the cashflows derived from the distribution of the estate such that at the end of the day – all the beneficiaries receive equal shares, in line with the late Lee Kuan Yew’s wishes?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.