SRS Calculator

Earn more by using SRS, or investing elsewhere?

Max of $15,300 due to SRS limit
Option 1: SRS
Reference: SPDR S&P 500 ETF is 8.05%
Option 2: Invest Elsewhere
Reference: Vanguard S&P 500 ETF is 10.16%
The penalty-free withdrawal age, which is also the retirement age, is 62.
Hover over data points to see dollar values.
On desktop: Click and drag to zoom in to a time period.

When considering putting money in an SRS account, you shouldn't only think about the potential tax savings. The opportunity cost of not having the money in a higher-growth investment should be factored in as well.

For the SRS, investment options are limited to the Singapore domestic listings. This typically has lower returns compared to overseas markets. The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (S27.SI) in Singapore had an annualised return of 8.05% over the last 5 years, while the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF (VOO) in the US had an annualised return of 10.16% over the same period.

With the difference in annualised returns, it seems that using SRS for investment is the worse option in both the long-term and short-term. The tax benefits from SRS at retirement do not outweigh the years of lower returns.

ETFs

  • All annualised returns have factored in stock splits and dividends.
  • The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (S27.SI) is one of the better options for domestic listings. Although it has a low trading volume, it had a 8.05% annualised return over the last 5 years (Aug 2014 - Aug 2019).
  • The popular SPDR Straits Times Index ETF (ES3.SI) performed poorly in comparison, growing at an annualised rate of 1.81% per year over the same period.
  • You can also take a look at the returns of other ETFs that I've been tracking.

Calculation Notes

  • The VOO annualised rate did not factored in the 30% US dividend withholding taxes. With VOO's dividends usually at 2%, the annualised rate might drop by 0.6% per year. Even factoring this in, the SRS is still a worse option.
  • Some might argue that the benefit from SRS can be further increased, if doing regular withdrawals over the 10-year draw-down period instead of a lump-sum withdrawal. This is because each withdrawal will hit a lower income tax bracket. However, if you plan to contribute to the SRS every year for 10 years or more, you will be withdrawing at least a full year's contribution every year anyway.
  • Treatment for SRS withdrawal: If withdrawing before the retirement year, 100% of the withdrawn amount will be subject to income tax, and 5% of the withdrawn amount will be forfeited. If withdrawing on or after the retirement year, 50% of the withdrawn amount will be taxed.