Trust us with voluntary disclosure programme, IRB tells taxpayers

Sabin (centre): When we accept the declaration in good faith, we also expect taxpayers to come forward. We will not question them on the nitty-gritty, but instead we will access them on their tax matters as declared. Photo by Patrick Goh

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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 14): Inland Revenue Board (IRB) chief executive officer Datuk Seri Sabin Samitah has urged taxpayers to trust the government's intention in introducing the special voluntary disclosure programme (SVDP), which was announced by the finance minister in Budget 2019 on Nov 2 last year.

"I am fully aware there are uncertainties surrounding the SVDP, which includes trust issues on the part of the taxpayers. People are quite sceptical even to the extent of questioning the rationale behind the programme," he said at the KPMG dialogue with the IRB today.

"However, this programme is a clear indication of the government's desire in reducing the burden of the people through taxation. The fundamentals of Malaysian tax system [are] based on trust and the SVDP represents an opportunity for the tax payers to trust the IRB," he added.

The programme encourages taxpayers to voluntarily disclose their previous undeclared income accurately and to settle tax arrears, if any.

Sabin also said any voluntary declaration made by taxpayers during the programme's eight-month period from Nov 3, 2018 to June 30, 2019 will be accepted by IRB in good faith.

"When we accept the declaration in good faith, we also expect taxpayers to come forward. We will not question them on the nitty-gritty, but instead we will assess them on their tax matters as declared," he added.

Sabin also assured that the confidentiality of taxpayers' information will be protected.

"I assure you that your declaration and any information provided will be duly treated as confidential as stipulated under the Income Tax Act 1967. It will not be shared or made known to a third party.

"I hope with this reassurance, any doubt you may still have, had been put to rest and will act as a driving force for you to come forward and do the necessary under the SVDP initiative," he added.

On whether the SVDP would then place taxpayers on the IRB's watch list for future tax investigations, Sabin said: "The way we choose our taxpayers to be audited is based on a risk analysis, I think those who have joined SVDP, they have [in fact] reduced their risks."

Under the SVDP, for disclosures of unreported income made from Nov 3, 2018 until March 31, 2019, the penalty will be 10% of the tax payable.

If the disclosure is made from April 1 to June 30 this year, the penalty will be 15% of the tax payable. After the programme ends on June 30, the penalty rates will range from 80% to the maximum of 300% as provided for in the existing tax laws.

It was reported that the SVDP aims to attract at least one million taxpayers, with an estimated RM10 billion collection.