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What you need to know about income tax.

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The tax season rolls around 1st March – 30th April is just around the corner, when filing in at Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN or Hasil) or online many financial, technical and even legal considerations to be taken into account. BUT don’t worry we will explain one by one to help you to understand.

Let us start……

Malaysia Personal Income Tax Rates 2015

Remember this two things:

Tax rates are Progressive,

You only pay the higher rate on the amount above the rate

For example : You will never have less “net income after tax” by earning more.

Tax rates are on Chargeable Income,

Not salary or total income. Chargeable income is calculated after tax exemptions and tax reliefs.

The table below are the personal income tax rates in Malaysia for the Assessment Year 2015 from http://www.hasil.gov.my/bt_goindex.php?bt_kump=5&bt_skum=1&bt_posi=2&bt_unit=5000&bt_sequ=11.

Please do cross-check the tax bracket and the amount of tax your need to pay for 2015.

Banjaran Pendapatan Bercukai (RM) Pengiraan Kadar % Cukai (RM)
0-2,500 First 2500 0 0
2,501-5,000 First 2500 0 0
5,0001-10,000 First 5,000Next 5,000 1 050
10,001-20,000 First 10,000Next 10,000 1 50100
20,001-35,000 First 20,000Next 15,000 5 150750
35,001-50,000 First 35,000Next 15,000 10 9001500
50,001-70,000 First 50,000Next 20,000 16 2,4003,600
70,001-100,000 First 70,000Next 30,000 21 5,6006,300
100,001-150,000 First 100,000Next 50,000 24 11,90012,000
150,001-250,000 First 150,000Next 100,000 24 23,90024,000
250,001-400,000 First 250,000Next 150,000 24.5 47,90036,750
<400,001 400,000 and above 25 84,650∞

How Much Do I Have To Earn Before Filing

RM30,672 per year (around RM2,556 per month after EPF deductions) is the key figures where all benefits, allowances, bonuses, overtime and commissions are included. If you’re earning below the figure, your are not required to open up a file for tax to be deducted from your income.

For those who earn above that, you need to have a tax file opened with your income tax automatically deducted from your income.

Take down some note may be you will find it useful:

  1. For non-residents of Malaysia (people who have been living in the country for less than 182 days per year), the tax rate has been set at 26% on all the income that has been earned in Malaysia regardless of your citizenship or nationality. However, there are some exceptions to the matter. Certain professions such as public entertainers (15%) as well as those who receive payments for services in connection with the use of property or installation, payments for technical advice and rent (10%) are taxed differently.
  2. You may still be overpaying or underpaying on your tax, even if you are a salaried worker or civil servant under a Potongan Cukai Bulanan (PCB), a Monthly / Schedular Tax Deduction (MTD) system or if you are self-employed / own your own business.

What is Chargeable Income in Malaysia?

The tax rates above are effected on a person’s Chargeable Income .

Let see what is that “chargeable income”.

The below is the formula to chargeable income.

Chargeable Income = Taxable income – Tax exemptions – Tax Reliefs

Make it an example,

You are earning a RM60,000 salary, you have a RM2,000 local bank interest income as well as RM13,000 from property rental income a year. The total will be RM75,000. Remember that you still have many tax reliefs available, every taxpayer gets the standard RM9,000 individual tax relief as well as a maximum relief of RM6,000 for EPF contributions.

That means your EPF contribution is calculated at 11% of RM60,000, i.e. RM6,600.

*Note: Interest is taxable income, but all local bank interest income is tax exempted.

Therefore, your Chargeable Income (by applying the aforementioned formula) will actually be:

RM75,000 – RM2,000 – (RM 9,000 + RM6000) = RM58,000.

*Note: Although your EPF is RM6,600 but the maximum relief is only RM 6,000.

Easy right? Let us continue.

Taxable Income in Malaysia

Taxable income actually refers to the “base upon which an income tax system imposes tax”. In general, the Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN) organisation includes all kinds of earnings which the Malaysian taxpayers have to pay for, but which is reduced by expenses and other deductions. Some of them include the following:

1. General Taxable Income

  • Business or Profession
  • Employment
  • Dividends
  • Interest (except bank deposit interest)
  • Discounts
  • Rent
  • Royalties
  • Premiums
  • Pensions
  • Annuities
  • Others

2. Perquisites

Perquisites are taxable benefits that can be converted to cash and are given to an employee from his/her employer.


1) Expenses claim

If your employer pays your utility, mobile phone, income tax, road tax or car insurance tax bills for you, then the amounts paid are considered to be perquisites and are taxable.

Example: John’s company pays his RM128 mobile phone bill. Then the amount of RM128 is a perquisite and is taxable

2) Company Credit Card

If your employer provides you with a credit card to make purchases on behalf of the company, but you use that card instead for personal use, then any retail purchases you make including the annual fee of the credit card are considered to be perquisites and are taxable.

Example: Tom uses the company credit card which has an annual fee of RM200, to purchase a flat screen TV worth RM5000 for his home. Then the amount of RM5200 is a perquisite and is taxable.

3) Loan from Company

If your employer provides you with a interest free loan and the source of funds for the loan is derived from extra company funds, then the loan is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Leonard’s boss grants him an interest free loan of RM6000 using extra company funds. Then the amount of RM6000 is a perquisite and is taxable.

Or if your employer provides you with a loan with funds taken from a third party source such as a bank etc. Then the difference in interest paid by the employee and the employer is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Keith’s boss gives him a loan with 4% interest using company funds taken from a local bank. The bank in turn, charged the company 8% interest for the initial loan. If the company paid a total of RM900 of interest payments to the bank while Keith paid a total of RM460 in interest payments to the company. Then the amount of RM900 – RM460 = RM440 is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Or if your employer agrees to waive a loan in exchange for services performed, then the loan amount is a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Eddie’s boss gives him a study loan of RM30,000 and agrees to waive the loan if he stays and works with the company for a minimum of 36 months. If Eddie successfully completes this agreement and the loan is waived, then the amount of RM30,000 is considered a perquisite and is taxable

4) Sponsored Club Membership

If your employer provides you with an individual club membership (not corporate), then the cost of the membership is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Bruce is provided with an individual country club membership by his company. The annual fees of the membership are RM400. Then the amount of RM400 is a perquisite and is taxable.

5) Sponsored Child Tuition Fees

If your employer pays for your child’s tuition fees, then the amount paid is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Shawn’s company pays for the school fees of his son, Ross. The annual school fees amount to a total of RM10,000. Then the amount of RM10,000 is a perquisite and is taxable.

6) Company Insurance Premiums

If your employer pays for an insurance premium that covers yourself and your immediate family. Then the annual amount of premium paid is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Richard’s company pays for an insurance package that covers himself and his wife and five children. The annual amount of premium paid is RM900. Then the amount of RM900 is a perquisite and is taxable.

7) Personal Driver, Guard or Maid

If your employer allows reimbursements on the salary of personal drivers, guards or maids, then the amount that is reimbursed is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Colin’s company allows him to reimburse 40% of the cost to hire his personal driver, Carlo. Carlo’s annual salary is RM25,000. Then the amount of RM10,000 is a perquisite and is taxable.

8) Special Staff Discounts

If your employer grants special staff discounts for certain products with monetary value such as cars, furniture, electronics etc. Then the amount of discount given is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Nathan’s company, BMW, grants him a special employee discount of 15% if he chooses to buy a BMW. If Nathan buys a BMW worth RM250,000 but only pays RM212,500 due to the 15% discount. Then the discount amount of RM37,500 is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

9) Gift Vouchers

If your employer gives you gift vouchers with monetary value during festive seasons such as Chinese New Year or Hari Raya. Then the monetary value of such gift vouchers is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

Example: Donald’s company awarded him a RM100 Tesco voucher during Chinese New Year. He subsequently used that voucher to pick up groceries for his family. The amount of RM100 is considered to be a perquisite and is taxable.

3. Benefits in Kind (BIK)

Benefits in Kind (BIK) are taxable benefits that cannot be converted to cash and are given to an employee from his/her employer.

Since Benefits in Kind do not have a direct monetary value, there are two ways to determine the value of a BIK, the formula method or the prescribed value method. Examples of Benefits in Kind include company provided automobiles, lodging and household furnishing & electronics.

Formula Method:
Value of asset/Life span of asset =Annual Value of Benefit

Prescribed Value Method:

Assigns a predetermined value from a list sorted by classification of asset.

Example: Company Automobile

If your employer provides you with an automobile to use on the job and privately, then the asset is considered to a benefit in kind and is taxable by the formula method. Any petrol costs and toll bridge costs which are subsidized by the employer are included in the total taxable amount as well.

Example: Christopher’s company provides him with a car worth RM81,000 to use to get to work and travel around in his spare time. He passes by 1 toll bridge on his way to work which charges RM1.50. Any toll payments he makes are subsidised by his employer. In addition, his petrol costs are subsidized by his employer as well. In 2013, he made a total of RM1,800 in toll payments and RM3,000 in petrol payments. For cars, the prescribed average lifespan is set at a fixed 8 years.

Formula Method:
81,000/8 X 80% (20% abatement represents the value of the car when returned to the employer)

= RM8,100 + RM1,800 (toll payments) +RM3,000 (petrol payments) = RM12,900

Prescribed Value Method:

Cost of Automobile (RM) Annual Prescribed Benefit of Automobile (RM) Annual Prescribed Benefit of Petrol (RM)
Up to 50,000 1,200 600
50,001 -75,000 2,400 900
75,001-100,000 3,600 1,200
100,001-150,000 5,000 1,500
150,001-200,000 7,000 1,800
200,001-250,000 9,000 2,100
250,001-350,000 15,000 2,400
350,001-500,000 21,250 2,700
500,001 and Above 25,000 3,000

Under the prescibed value method, since the value of the car falls between RM75,001 and RM100,000, then the amount taxable is RM3,600. In addition, his petrol costs are also set at a predetermined RM1,200.

Total Cost:

RM3,600 + RM1,200 + RM1,800 (toll payments) = RM6,600

Tax Exemptions on Income in Malaysia

Tax exemptions in Malaysia come in many forms, and can be defined as “a personal allowance or specific monetary exemption which may be claimed by an individual to reduce taxable income”.

Generally speaking, it means they are income items which can be from (we refrain from using the word deductions here, because tax reliefs are also ‘deducted’ from your taxable income) the individual’s paycheck. Below you will find a full list of those items along with their respective descriptions, so that you will get a general idea of what to expect:

1) Leave Passage

Leave passage within Malaysia not exceeding three times in a year and one leave passage outside Malaysia not exceeding RM3,000.

2) Medical and dental benefit

With effect from the year of assessment 2008, medical benefits exempted from tax is 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.

This compensation is exempted from tax. If compensation received is due to ill health. Compensation received in other cases:

i. Termination before 1st July 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 1st July 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. He 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. Where an individual receives more than one pension, the exemption is restricted to 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 under this category is exempted from tax on condition it is approved by the Minister.

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 30 August 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 Exemption (RM)
Publication of artistic works / recording discs / tapes 10,000
Translation of books / literary works 12,000
Publication of literary works /original paintings/musical compositions 20,000

However, the exemption stated above does not apply if the payment received forms part of his emoluments in the exercise of the individual’s official duties.

14) Income Remitted from Outside Malaysia

With effect from the year of assessment 2004, income derived from outside Malaysia and received in Malaysia by a resident individual is exempted from tax.

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

With effect from the year of assessment 2004, income received by an individual 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 5 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. The commercialised research finding must be verified by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment.

17) Company Special Service Awards

With effect from the 2007 year of assessment, a tax exemption of up to RM1,000 has been allocated for company special service cash or prize awards

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.

19) Benefits in Kind Exemptions

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

Consumable Services

Example: 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.)

What Are Tax Reliefs?

What about a tax relief? It is defined as “an amount that can be deducted from a person’s annual income to reduce the amount on which tax is paid”.

To describe it in a more clear and concise manner, it is actually a way for you to lessen your chargeable income.

Let’s say you took home a monthly paycheck of RM4,000 from your company in 2014 and if there were no tax exemptions or reliefs, your chargeable income will remain the same and your tax for the year would have been in the 10% bracket.

Now say the Government decides that all Residents of Malaysia should get a personal tax relief of up to RM9,000 per year. Your chargeable income will now be RM31,000 which means that your tax would be in the 6% bracket.

These are the following reliefs available for Malaysian Residents:

Included in MTD system RM
Self and Dependent 9,000
Life insurance and EPF 6,000
Husband/Wife/Alimony Payments 3,000
Ordinary Child relief (per child) 1,000
Total > 15,000
Not usually included in MTD / PCB system but relevant to most taxpayers RM
Net saving in SSPN’s scheme 6,000
Education Fees (Individual) 5,000
Updated: PRS Voluntary Contribution 3,000
Purchase of personal computer (every 3 years) 3,000
Insurance premium for education or medical benefit 3,000
Special relief for tax payers earning an income of up to RM8,000 a month (RM96,000 anually). Only applicable for the 2013 year of assessment. 2,000
Purchase of books, journals, magazines and publications 1,000
Complete medical examination 500
Purchase of sport equipment for sport activities 300
Total 19,300
Not included in MTD system but relevant to certain taxpayers RM
Disabled Individual 6,000
Basic supporting equipment (for disabled self, spouse, child or parent) 5,000
Medical expenses for serious diseases 5,000
Disabled child 5,000
Medical expenses for parents 5,000
Child age 18 years old and above, not married and pursuing diplomas or above qualification in Malaysia @ bachelor degree or above outside Malaysia in program and in Higher Education Institute that is accredited by related Government authorities 6,000
Disabled Wife / Husband 3,500
Child age 18 years old and above, not married and receiving full-time tertiary education 1,000
Premium on new annuity scheme or additional premium paid on existing annuity scheme commencing payment from 01/01/2010 (amount exceeding RM1,000 can be claimed together with life insurance premium) 1,000
Total > 35,500

Tax Deductions vs Tax Reliefs

Most of the time people get confused between Tax Deductions and Tax Reliefs, and its easy to see why. They are for the most part the same thing, as they both allow you to reduce your Chargeable Income (that is, before you even start looking at tax rate tables). In fact most people worldwide use both terms interchangeably, and LHDN goes one step further and classifies Tax Deductions as a reduction in your Chargeable Income as a result of Gifts or Donations.

As a rule of thumb, you can deduct up to 7% of your Taxable Income for gifts to charities and institutions which are approved by the government (not all charities are approved, so be sure to find out before you donate away!), unless you are giving to a few selected government-related bodies, where there is less restrictions on the amount deductible from your income.

For example, if you earned RM60,000 this year, and donated RM5,000 to an approved charity, you may deduct RM4,200 (ie. 7% of RM60,000) off your chargeable income, in addition to all those reliefs above.

What are the Tax Rebates in Malaysia for 2015?

Some people will be having the question of how is a tax rebate different from a tax relief? A tax relief is a reduction in your chargeable income (ie. before you calculate tax) whereas a tax rebate is a reduction in your tax expense after you have calculated your tax for the year.

Tax rebates (or also known as “tax refunds” but done automatically rather than actually refunded to you). Simply put, there are income tax rebates for Malaysian taxpaying citizens who are having a chargeable income of less than RM35,000 which is RM400. There is also an additional RM400 rebate for married couples who have a chargeable income of less than RM35,000 per year and are eligible for the RM3,000 wife / husband / alimony relief.

To give a quick calculation example for tax rebates:

Taxable Income: Salary of RM45,000 a year

Chargeable Income: RM45,000RM9,000 – RM4,950 EPF relief = RM31,050.

Tax calculated using Income Tax Tables (without counting any rebates): RM863

Tax Payable: RM863RM400 rebate = RM463

In the above example, you were eligible for the RM400 tax rebate because your Chargeable Income was less than RM35,000 (it was RM31,050 in that example).

Another type of tax rebate, but which is only applicable for Muslim citizens, is the zakat / fitrah. Zakat is a compulsory payment for charity and considered to be compulsory as it is one of the five pillars in Islam. It can be calculated via the Muslim taxpayer’s acquired wealth or income.

Zakat Fitrah, on the other hand, can be considered to be a small, compulsory levy that is imposed upon Muslim taxpayers only. It used to be calculated in the olden days using a pack of rice grains (one pack is equivalent to approximately 2.7 kg) but in the modern days, it is calculated based on the equivalent price of this pack rice grains.

What is the Cut-off Point to Pay Tax in 2015?

Although the minimum threshold for filing tax is as per above; just because you have to file; doesn’t mean you will have to pay any tax. The minimum threshold for which you will need to pay tax has increased in 2015 to RM34,455 because there is no longer the special relief for those earning less than RM80,000. How did we get to that figure?Assuming that you made RM34,457 in 2015.

Chargeable Income

Your Chargeable Income = Your taxable income – (Standard RM9,000 individual tax relief + 11% EPF Contribution of your salary)

which means

Your Chargeable Income = RM34,457- (RM9,000 + RM3,790) = RM21,667

Based on the tax rate table above, RM21,667 would be taxed RM300 on the first RM20,000 and RM100 on the remaining RM1,667 which brings it up to about RM400 in tax.

RM400 Rebate

After taking into account the RM400 rebate for those with a chargeable income of RM35,000 or less, you’ll be paying

RM400 – RM400 = RM0 (no tax, yay!)

PCB / MTD System: Has Your Employer Paid Too Much Tax for You?

The words are actually acronyms for “Potongan Cukai Bulanan / Monthly Tax Deductions”.

How this works is that your employer will automatically deduct a certain amount from your salary every month to pay for tax on your behalf, going towards paying your tax for the year. This type of deduction is different from the basic Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (SOCSO) monthly deductions.

Therefore, one can sum up that the MTD is calculated from one’s gross salary minus the EPF deductions of up to RM6,000 per year. If you were to take a closer look at the sum of the total MTD for the year, you will realise that the figure will be very close to your actual tax expense for the year, but given that your company has no idea of your additional reliefs other than being married or having children (such as Books, Sporting equipment etc.), they are very likely to have been overpaying for you.

Unless you believe you have no additional reliefs such as those listed; you might want to calculate to see if you are overpaying.

*Note : Friendly Reminder

The 2015 tax assessment year follows the calendar year,

Taxpayers can start submitting their income tax return forms for the year of assessment 2014 through e-filing as well. The due date for the submission of return forms are as follows:

1) Employers (Form E) is 31 March 

2) Residents and non-residents with non-business income (Form BE and M) is 30 April 

3) Residents and non-residents with business income (Form B and M) is 30 June 

4) Partnerships (Form P) is 30 June 

You are responsible to  keep records for 7 years from the date of filing so don’t throw away any receipts or evidence of tax reliefs, keep them in a file sorted by tax year.

For further information please do contact us.