Malaysian tycoons ordered to pay up unsettled taxes

Malaysian tycoons ordered to pay up unsettled taxes
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PUTRAJAYA - Several tycoons including Tan Sris and Datuks have found themselves being ordered to pay up unsettled taxes running into hundreds of millions of ringgit.

The exercise is being separately carried out by the Inland Revenue Board and the At­­torney-General Chamber's powerful National Revenue Recovery Enforcement Team (NRRET).

In Penang, high level sources said a Tan Sri had been instructed to settle his payments while a Datuk in Johor was also ordered to do so.

The NRRET, which was set up in 2015, is made up of the AGC, police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Bank Negara, Inland Revenue Department, Customs Department and the Companies Commission of Malaysia, among others.

It deals with cases such as tax evasion by individuals and corporate bodies, illegal outflow of funds and acts of corruption.

Questions for the taxman.Photo: The Star/Asia News Network

Recent reports said that 13 millionaires were among taxpayers being pursued for unpaid dues. Apparently, they accumulated combined arrears amounting to almost RM50mil (S$16 million) in less than two years.

As for companies being forced to sell assets in order to pay tax bills, the latest report emerged on Tuesday about IRB seizing Country Heights Holdings Bhd's (CHHB) executive chairman Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew's fixed deposits amounting to RM126mil placed with a bank.

This is believed to be linked to a tax liability of CHHB's wholly owned subsidiary, Country Heights Sdn Bhd.

Subsequently, Lee informed Bursa Malaysia that he was agreeable to having the fixed de­­po­sits used to settle the tax liability.

Ordinary Malaysians without business in­­come have until Monday to do their e-filing.

The IRB has warned of stringent enforcement this year with more auditing and investigations to be carried out.

To ensure an updated and accurate database, the IRB will work with the police, Cus­toms Department, MACC and local councils, among others.

From January until May 9, the IRB held four major operations nationwide. More are on the cards.

On Monday, Ops KUTiP - a two-day campaign to collect unpaid taxes dating back to 2015 - was launched.

A total of 592 IRB officers knocked on doors to collect over RM326mil owed in the last two years. The IRB aimed to get at least 90 per cent of the amount by December.

IRB CEO Datuk Sabin Samitah said that starting this year, initiatives made were meant to "facilitate compliance and make non-compliance difficult."

He said the IRB would improve its collection process, while ensuring a swifter legal action against those who refuse to settle their arrears.

Those involved in the "underground economy" are also on the IRB's radar.

IRB revenue collection department director Mohd Idris Mamat said most of the arrears involved old cases where the taxpayers could not be located, had died or been declared bankrupt.

On March 20, the Prime Minister told Parliament that uncollected income tax was estimated at RM6.8bil as of Dec 31 last year.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of the Economic Planning Unit, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, urged businesses and individuals to pay up "for everyone's benefit". Tax revenue was important not only for the country's development, but also to help our businesses grow, he said.

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