Suppose a company in Singapore buys some hardware for $100, develops some software for it, and wishes to sell the integrated solution for $200 to a foreign customer. The invoice lists the hardware for $1, and the software for $199. Thus, the company does not lose money on the sale. Is it lawful for them to price their product this way? What law does this scenario involve? Finance? Business? Taxation? Custom? Thanks.

  • Depends on what taxes they pay when buying/selling hardware/software locally/internationally. If the arrangement results in them paying less tax then it would be seen as tax evasion. Otherwise you're free to sell whatever you want for however much you want. – Greendrake Aug 1 '18 at 5:33
  • Loss leader - where you're not even guaranteed to make the more expensive sale - seems generally accepted. – Damien_The_Unbeliever Aug 1 '18 at 11:20
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    The relevant laws would be anti-trust, unfair competition, international trade, taxation, and consumer protection laws. Normally, a loss leader only available in a package deal is lawful, but Singapore could conceivable have a statute that forbids it, I don't have access to a good source for its laws. – ohwilleke Aug 1 '18 at 14:13

So they sell hardware for $1 and software for $199, instead of a more realistic hardware for $120 and software for $80.

I would say that if this strange pricing leads to tax savings, then whatever tax office is losing out is likely to call this illegal "tax evasion". Or if the salesman doing the sale and setting the price gets 5% commission on hardware sales but 20% commission on software sales, then the selling company might not be happy. The other way round, if the salesman gets 20% on hardware and 5% of software sales, and the company set this strange price, the salesman might feel defrauded (and may actually be defrauded).

If this went to court for any reason, a judge might very well decide that $1 + $199 was not the actual price. (Imagine the judge pulls $100 out of his pockets and says "if you insist this is the true price, then I'll have 100 of these hardware items". Won't happen, but would be funny).

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Be Aware of GST

Singapore has a Goods and Services Tax (GST), very similar to Europe's VAT. Services and goods are treated differently, and software can fall under both categories, depending on how it's delivered. Make sure you're putting it in the right category! See generally https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/GST/GST-registered-businesses/Specific-business-sectors/e-Commerce/

As long as you're not evading GST by packaging this way, I'm not seeing any issue here. Singapore is a member of WTO and could conceivably take actions against dumping, but that's not a question of legality.

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  • The supposed scenario is for international clients, not sales inside Singapore. Also, it is inconceivable that the sales quantity reach the range of "dumping." – J. Doe Aug 1 '18 at 17:21
  • @J.Doe I would recommend adding the country of the foreign buyer, in that case. – Michael W. Aug 1 '18 at 17:26
  • @Micheal W., say ASEAN is the target market. – J. Doe Aug 1 '18 at 17:27

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