Vikna Rajah is recognised as a leading lawyer in both Tax and Trust & Private Client practices. He is praised in the legal directories as being an “experienced litigator” with “extensive tax knowledge”, who is “an extremely intelligent man” and is “excellent to work with”.
Vikna, who also has a degree in accountancy, led the tax practice to clinch Singapore’s Tax Disputes and Litigation Firm of the Year (Asia Awards, International Tax Review 2017). In addition, he was recently recognised by The Asia Legal Awards 2017 as Private Client Lawyer of the Year.
He is recommended by Chambers High Net Worth Guide 2016 as a leading individual in Tax and in Chambers Asia Pacific (2016 Edition) as a recognised practitioner in Tax. The Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2016 Edition) ranks him as one of only two individuals as Band 1 for Private Wealth. He was also recognised by the Singapore Business Review 2015 as one of Singapore’s Top 40 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under.
Vikna is lauded for his expertise in tax litigation. He has appeared as lead counsel at all levels of the Singapore Courts, including the Court of Appeal. Vikna, advises clients on complex income tax, goods and services tax (“GST”), stamp duty, property tax and tax treaty issues, specialising in contentious civil disputes with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (“IRAS”), tax structuring and criminal tax litigation.
In the context of civil tax litigation, he has a track record of successfully and effectively resolving multi-million dollar disputes with IRAS and is regularly instructed by multi-national companies, other top-tier law firms, magic circle firms and Big 4 accounting firms. He is known for his expertise on advising on Singapore’s general anti-avoidance provision found in section 33 ITA.
Prior to joining Rajah & Tann, Vikna was Senior Legal Specialist with IRAS where he advised the authority on all areas of tax law, primarily in relation to complex, controversial or novel points of law. In addition, he was gazetted as a prosecutor where he had a 100% conviction, obtaining successful convictions for income tax, GST and stamp duty evasion.
Trust & Private Wealth
Vikna is acclaimed as a leading Trust & Private Wealth lawyer. He is regularly engaged to advise leading trust companies and ultra-high net worth families to create multi-generational trusts that best address their succession planning needs, ensuring smooth transition of management and ownership of operating companies to preserve their value.
He is recognised as the go-to lawyer for novel, complicated cross-border estate planning and structuring that often incudes operating companies and exotic assets such as high value art pieces, and whisky, wine and pen collections. Clients value his expertise in tax especially when establishing complicated trust structures that hold residential properties which give rise to complex stamp duty issues.
He also advises banks, trust companies and service providers on their fiduciary, regulatory and reporting obligations.
Vikna acts as lead counsel for arbitrations which revolve around specialised valuation, accounting and tax issues to leverage on his unique accountancy and tax expertise.
Civil Tax Litigation
- Successfully acting for a multi-national construction company to obtain a tax refund of over S$3m in relation to expenses of over S$20m which were initially disallowed by IRAS.
- Successfully acting for an educational institution to claim almost S$4m in input tax (relating to supplies of over S$50m) which was initially disallowed by IRAS.
- Successfully acted for a family holding company to obtain a refund of S$1.5m in tax after IRAS accepted revised accounts which included a reversal of over S$7m in interest income.
- Successfully acting for 2 distinct clients (including 1 Fortune 100 company) in relation to deductions in relation to employee stock options schemes under section 14P ITA resulting in an aggregate tax savings of S$1m.
- Successfully acted for a Ultra-High Net Worth Individual for gains from the sale of investment properties to be treated as capital in nature.
- ABU v Comptroller of Income Tax  SGCA 4 (Court of Appeal), Comptroller of Income Tax v. BLM  SGHC 212 (High Court)
Lead counsel for the Comptroller of Income Tax in a landmark case on the exchange of information between the Governments of the Republic of Singapore and Japan.
- Comptroller of Income Tax v. BBO (Court of Appeal)  SGCA 10; (High Court)  3 SLR 36; (Income Tax Board of Review)  SGITBR 2
Represented the Comptroller of Income Tax in a landmark case on taxability of gains made from the sale of long-term investments by an insurance company.
- BLL v. Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax  SGGST 1
Lead counsel for the Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax (“GST”) in a landmark case regarding the registration of persons carrying on a business in partnership under the GST Act.
Criminal Tax Litigation
- PP v. Tan Ting Sin
Acted for the accused in a case involving fraudulent GST evasion by under-declaration of the value of imported good, where the Courts to imposed a fine of 5 times the value of the tax evaded, half the amount the Customs Prosecutor was seeking.
- PP v. RC Compenents, PP v. Chan Keng Chun
Acted for the accused in relation to charges under section 37J ITA for providing false information without reasonable excuse to obtain a PIC cash payout.
- PP v. Kong Kim Soon
Secured a conviction against the taxpayer for committing 3 counts of tax evasion, resulting in 6 months’ imprisonment and a penalty of over $560,000.
- PP v. ATT (Systems) Pte. Ltd
Successfully prosecuted the company, which was in the business of developing electronic queue systems, for committing 2 counts of serious fraudulent tax evasion, resulting in penalties and fines amounting to over $785,000.
- PP v. Teo Joo Hiang
Secured a conviction against a remisier for committing 2 offences of tax evasion resulting in 1 week imprisonment per charge and over $190,000 in penalties.
- PP v. Koh Siew Buay
Secured a conviction against a property agent for 3 charges of using counterfeit stamp duty certificates, resulting in 2 weeks imprisonment.
Trust & Private Wealth
- Led the sale of Heritage Trust Group, one of Asia’s leading trust companies, to Equiom Group (South East Asia) Pte Ltd.
- Main advisor for numerous leading trustee companies on tax and trust issues.
- Establishing multiple succession planning trusts for various Ultra-High Net Worth individuals, each with assets ranging from S$800m to over S$1billion.
- Establishing a succession planning trust for one of the most prominent Asian families with three generations situated across the globe and over S$1billion in assets.
- Advised one the world’s leading trust companies in a cross-border multi-million dollar dispute concerning disbursements from a trust tainted with allegations of fraud and dishonesty on part of one of the beneficiaries. The matter also required us to advise on the disclosure obligations under Singapore law on the part of the trustee as a result of US tax law.
- Advised on the consolidation of an ultra-high net worth family’s charitable trusts.
- Advised on the setting up of a charitable society on the giving of qurdan hasana under Syariah law, the first such charity in Singapore.
- Instructed by a leading UK solicitor firm as lead counsel for the Defendant in a SIAC Arbitration involving the sale of shares in a shipping company revolving around valuation and accounting issues.
Memberships / Directorships
- Member, Law Society of Singapore
- Member, Singapore Academy of Law
- Director, Beyond Social Services
Publications and speeches
- Author for the Singapore Chapter on Corporate Tax for the International Comparative Legal Guide.
- Harvard Law School, Exchange of Information Among Tax Authorities: Strengthening the Rule of Law in Asia as part of the East Asian Legal Studies Speakers series, which have included the Vice-President of Taiwan and the Solicitor-General of the Philippines.