PH asked to be people-centri in IRB launch of Special voluntary declaration programme

Elson Tie

In response to the Special Voluntary Declaration Programme launched by Inland Revenue Board (IRB) which involves issuing of tax payment notices to more than 8.3 million people nationwide, SUPP Youth Central Organizing Secretary Elson Tie urges Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to formulate a more flexible solution which is people-centric.

“A number of Sarawakians who have received the notices through letters or emails from IRB, have met me to express their anxiety over this. Some of them even panicked, worrying that a minor miss or omission in their Income Tax Return Form (BNCP) might cause them be convicted to tax evasion.”

According to the remarks by IRB chief executive officer Datuk Seri Sabin Samitah previously, the taxpayers are given a grace period to do the voluntary disclosure. For reporting of tax omissions done on or before 31 March 2019, only 10% of the penalty to be paid. After which until 30 June 2019, 15% penalty will be imposed. After the voluntary disclosure period expires on 30 June 2019 however, taxpayers who fail to declare the underpaid tax might face a maximum penalty rate of 300%, and held accountable to bear the legal fees if they are charged in court.

Dealing with this, Elson, who is also SUPP Bawang Assan Youth Branch Chairman, pointed out that while filling up the tax return form, one need to provide some figures that need to be actuarial or checked, such as rebate and tax relief, profits and losses from both domestic and foreign properties, etc. This is a time-consuming and energetic effort for some self-employed individuals and small businesses. ”In this situation, I would like voice out the difficulties faced by our fellow Sarawakians who are law-abiding but lack the taxation knowledge. Is it reasonable that after they have paid the tax to the government, they still got to face a high penalty rate due to their past mistakes or inaccuracies in calculating? Since the federal government has set a date for tax declaration, why isn’t the government be prepared for aid or tolerance programs for those who have difficulty calculating accurate figures in time?”

Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumerism YB Chong Chieng Jen, in his recent remark, stressed that the letters from IRB were not intended to disturb the public. He went on to advise the public to obtain professional advice from accountants or tax consultants. Responding to this, Elson says: “As professional services are needed to ensure accuracy in tax declaration, which is definitely an extra burden for the general low-income people, I would like to ask our Deputy Minister, since the federal government does not want to disturb the people, is it reasonable that the people be provided financial assistance in order to get the professional services? Or enjoy a direct rebate from the tax amount for the relevant accounting and tax advisory fees?”

“What Sarawakians expect from the ruling party is the action which will actually ensure welfare for people of Sarawak, instead of letting the people feel that they are being treated as criminals, doubting about whether they will face the penalty or being charged with tax evasion. Therefore, I appeal to YB Chong, as the chairman of PH Sarawak, to voice out on behalf of Sarawakians in the federal cabinet over this IRB tax penalty issue. We seek his attention in urging Ministry of Finance to take more flexible measures, to ease the burden of public, who are under financial pressure, and ensure that they will no longer be plagued by tax-stricken fines.” In his statement, Elson said that even though the leaders of DAP verbally said that not their intention to disturb the people, Lim Guan Eng even said that the notice issued by IRB just served as a reminder letter instead of taking action against the taxpayer, but the relevant deadlines and penalty rates are stated clearly in IRB official portal. Thus, how can the people not worry?

“As the deadline for March 31 is almost approaching. We urgently need Deputy Minister YB Chong to clarify for us whether what the government intend is really just a “reminder”, which means the penalty will not be imposed for under-declaration of tax? If so, why doesn’t he urge the Ministry of Finance to announce the abolition of the 8 million tax-penalty letters and give the people a sound night’s sleep?”

Elson Tie

Elson Tie