Amendments to finance bill, customs bills approved

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic BERNAMA

LAWMAKERS have passed the Finance Bill 2020 which covers the proposed amendments under the existing Income Tax Act 1967 and provides several tax exemptions to alleviate Covid-19 impacts.

Deputy Finance Minister II Mohd Shahar Abdullah (picture) tabled the bill during the Dewan Rakyat sitting yesterday.

The bill also contains the proposed amendments for the Labuan Business Activity Tax Act 1990, Real Property Gains Tax Act 1976, Stamp Act 1949 and Petroleum (Income Tax) Act 1967.

Among the amendments under the Income Tax Act is raising the tax deduction limit for medical treatment expenses from RM6,000 to RM8,000, in addition to expanding the scope of tax deduction to cover vaccination expenses.

Other deductions allowed include Covid-19-related treatment cost, vaccine expenses for parents, medical treatment for special needs and parental care.

Some RM1,000 in tax relief for vaccination treatment, including the Covid-19 vaccine, also applies to taxpayers and family members (children and spouses).

In his winding-up speech, Mohd Shahar said the proposed amendments to the Income Tax Act were not drafted in favour of any individuals to settle their outstanding debt with the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).

He was responding to a remark made by RSN Rayer (Pakatan Harapan-Jelutong), who said the amendments proposed seemed to provide some advantages to several MPs who are currently facing lawsuits.

“I want an explanation on why the amendments are being proposed now. Is it to give the advantage to the Pekan MP to manage his court case?

“He is currently facing RM1.6 billion in tax suit with the IRB,” he said.

Mohd Shahar dismissed the allegations and reiterated that the amendments were made following the passing of the federal budget and according to the measures implemented to help the economy recover.

“I mentioned earlier in my speech that these amendments are made following Budget 2021 and what will be introduced next year, which involves measures to safeguard the welfare of the people.

“All these unrelated accusations are out of context as we are doing this solely for the people,” he said.

In June last year, the IRB filed a lawsuit against Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak for RM1.69 billion in unpaid taxes for assessments between 2011 and 2017, coupled with the interest of 5% a year from the date of judgement which includes costs and other reliefs deemed fit by the court.

The Dewan Rakyat also passed three customs-related bills yesterday, namely the Customs (Amendment) Bill 2020, Excise (Amendment) Bill 2020 and Free Zones (Amendment) Bill 2020.