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The Definitive Guide To Personal Income Tax In Malaysia For 2016

Find out everything you need to know about filing your personal income tax in Malaysia by April 2016!

Chapter 2

What Is A Tax Exemption?

Fortunately, taxpayers in Malaysia are not taxed on our total income, as certain portions of our income are tax exempted. For income tax filed in Malaysia, we are entitled for certain tax exemptions that can reduce our overall chargeable income.

Tax exemptions either reduce or entirely eliminate your obligation to pay tax. Most taxpayers are entitled to an exemption on their tax return that reduces your tax bill in the same way a deduction does.

The following tax exemptions will not be included in the taxpayer’s EA Form:

malaysia tax exemption

The above tax exemptions are subject to approval, and conditions set by LHDN.

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Read on to understand more about the above tax exemptions:

1) Leave Passage

Leave passage refers to vacation time paid for by your employer, and is divided into two categories: local and overseas. You are entitled for tax exemption not exceeding three times in a year for leave passage within Malaysia, and one leave passage outside Malaysia not exceeding RM3,000.

2) Medical and dental benefit

Medical benefits provided by your employer is exempted from tax, and starting from Year of Assessment 2008 (tax filed in 2009), it has been expanded to include maternity expenses and traditional medicine like ayurvedic and acupuncture without limit.

3) Retirement gratuity

The full amount of gratuity received by an employee on retirement from employment is exempt if:

i. The Director General of Inland Revenue is satisfied that the retirement is due to ill health;

ii. Retirement on or after reaching the age of 55 years/compulsory age of retirement and the individual has worked 10 years continuously with the same employer or companies within the same group;

iii. The retirement takes place on reaching the compulsory age of retirement pursuant to a contract of employment or collective agreement at the age of 50 but before 55 and that employment has lasted for 10 years with the same employer or with companies in the same group.

4) Gratuity paid out of public funds

Gratuity paid out of public funds on retirement from an employment under any written law.

5) Gratuity paid to a contract officer

Gratuity paid out of public funds to a contract officer on termination of a contract of employment regardless of whether the contract is renewed or not.

6) Compensation for loss of employment

This is payment made by an employer to his employee as compensation for loss of employment either before or after the date of termination, and it is exempted from tax.

This compensation is exempted from tax if compensation received is due to ill health, and these other cases:

i. Termination before July 1, 2008 – exemption of RM6,000 for every completed year of service with the same employer or with companies in the same group.

ii. Termination on or after July 1, 2008 – exemption of RM10,000 for every completed year of service with the same employer or with companies in the same group

Compensation received by a director (not service director) of a Control Company is fully taxable.

7) Pensions

Pensions received by an individual are exempt under the following conditions:

i. Tax payer retires at the age of 55 or at the compulsory age of retirement under any written law; or

ii. If the retirement is due to ill health and the pension is received from the government or from an approved pension scheme.

For an employee in the public sector who elects for optional retirement, his pension will be taxed until he attains the age of 55 or the compulsory age of retirement under any written law. If the tax payer receives more than one pension, the exemption will be on the highest pension received.

8) Death gratuities

Monies received as death gratuity is fully exempted from income tax.

9) Scholarships

Any monies paid by way of scholarship to an individual whether or not in connection with an employment of that individual is exempted from income tax.

10) Cultural performances

Money received for cultural performances approved by the Minister is exempted from tax.

11) Interest

Income in respect of interest received by individuals resident in Malaysia from money deposited with the following institutions is tax exempt with effect from August 30, 2008:

i. A bank or a finance company licensed or deemed to be licensed under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989;

ii. A bank licensed under the Islamic Banking Act 1983;

iii. A development financial institution prescribed under the Development Financial Institutions Act 2002;

iv. The Lembaga Tabung Haji established under the Tabung Haji Act 1995;

v. The Malaysia Building Society Berhad incorporated under the Companies Act 1965;

vi. The Borneo Housing Finance Berhad incorporated under the Companies Act 1965.

12) Dividend

The following dividends are exempt from tax:

i. Dividends received from exempt accounts of companies.

ii. Dividends received from co-operative societies.

iii. Dividends received from a unit trust approved by the Minister of Finance such as Amanah Saham Bumiputra.

iv. Dividends received from a unit trust approved by the Minister of Finance where 90% or more of the investment is in government securities.

13) Royalty

Royalties received in respect of the use of copyrights/patents are taxable if they exceed the following exemption limits:

Types of Royalty
Publication of artistic works / recording discs / tapes
Translation of books / literary works
Publication of literary works /original paintings/musical compositions

However, the exemption stated above does not apply if the payment received is considered part of the tax payer’s payment for official duties.

14) Income remitted from outside Malaysia

Income tax Malaysia starting from Year of Assessment 2004 (tax filed in 2005), income derived from outside Malaysia and received in Malaysia by a resident individual is exempted from tax.

For example, if you take up a job while overseas and you only receive the payment for the job when you are back in Malaysia.

15) Fees or honorarium for expert services

With effect from the Year of Assessment 2004, fees or honorarium received by an individual in respect of services provided for purposes of validation, moderation or accreditation of franchised education programmes in higher educational institutions is exempted.

The services provided by an individual concerned have to be verified and acknowledged by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). However, the exemption does not apply if the payment received forms part of his emoluments in the exercise of his official duties.

16) Income derived from research findings

Income received from the commercialisation of a scientific research finding is given tax exemption of 50% on the statutory income in the basis year for a year of assessment for five years from the date the payment is made.

The individual scientist who received the said payment must be a citizen and a resident in Malaysia and the commercialised research finding must be verified by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.

17) Company special service awards

Company special service cash or prize awards is eligible for a tax exemption of up to RM1,000.

18) Travelling allowances

Travelling allowances of up to RM6,000 for petrol and tolls are granted a tax exemption if the vehicle used is not under ownership of the company. This refers to the claims made by employees who are using their personal vehicle for official duties.

19) Benefits in kind exemptions

Certain Benefits in Kind pertaining to consumable services are not eligible for taxation.

Examples of consumable services are dental care, child care benefits, food & drinks, special arranged transportation between pick-up points and special discounts for consumable products that cannot be resold (such as food or toiletries etc.).

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