GST was implemented at a single rate of 3% on 1 April 1994, with an assurance that it would not be raised for at least five years. To cushion the impact of GST on Singaporean households, an offset package was also introduced. Simultaneously, corporate tax rate was cut by 3% to 27%, and the top marginal personal income tax rate was cut by 3% to 30%. The initial GST rate of 3% was among the lowest in the world, as the focus was not to generate substantial revenue, but to allow people to get adjusted to the tax.
In 2002, the Economic Review Committee reviewed Singapore's tax policy, and recommended that further tax reform was necessary to bring in new investments. The committee noted that other countries were aggressively cutting their direct tax rates to attract internationally mobile capital and labour, and recommended that the government rely more on GST for its tax revenues, while again cushioning the impact on Singaporean households through an offset package.
The government accepted the committee's recommendations. The GST rate was increased from 3% to 4% in 2003, and to 5% in 2004. Each increase was accompanied by an offset package that was designed to make the average Singaporean household overall better off, even after accounting for the additional costs imposed by the increase in GST rates. Direct tax rates were also reduced correspondingly.
On 15 February 2007 (Budget Day), Second Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced that the GST rate would be increased to 7% with effect from 1 July 2007.
The government also cut direct tax rates, continuing its practice of lowering direct tax rates since 1986. As of 2010, the top marginal rates for corporate tax stood at 17% and personal income tax at 20%, with effective rates being much lower.