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Income tax, an obligation of citizens

  • LHDN normally gives taxpayers ample time to settle their dues before issuing the travel ban.

Sin Chew Daily

LHDN CEO Sabin Samitah said as of end-2017, his department had issued travel bans on more than 160,000 individuals for not paying their due taxes within the stipulated time. Collectively these people owe more than RM4.916 billion in unpaid taxes.

Taxpayers must understand that they can be barred from leaving the country for defaulting on their due income taxes irrespective of the amount, because Section 104 of the Income Tax Act 1967 and Section 22 of the Real Property Gains Tax Act have not specified the minimum amount for a tax defaulter to be barred.

LHDN's actions have been widely perceived as being uncompassionate. Having said that, the authorities would normally give taxpayers enough time to solve their problems and would exhaust all avenues to contact them before taking any further legal action.

Unfortunately LHDN's reminders often fall on deaf ears and many taxpayers do not bother to respond to the notices. They only blame LHDN when they find themselves on the travel ban list shortly before flying off.

As a matter of fact, barring a person from leaving the country is the last resort which the authorities must adopt because taxpayers are dodging their tax obligations and are unwilling to confront their problems.

As what we understand, many taxpayers will only look into their problems seriously and visit the LHDN offices to settle their unpaid taxes after finding themselves on the travel ban list.

Unlike PTPTN, LHDN does not maintain service counters at the airport to allow tax defaulters to pay up their dues before leaving the country.

LHDN explains that it has given taxpayers sufficient time and grace period to settle their dues before issuing the ban, and it is therefore unnecessary to set up the service counters, adding that taxpayers will not be barred from leaving the country if they pay up before the deadline.

Even at the airport, taxpayers can still talk to LHDN officials and make payment arrangements, remit directly to LHDN's bank account or make online transactions.

Taxpayers must also update their personal particulars either online or through other official channels in the event they have changed their mailing addresses. This is to allow the authorities to contact them and ensure they do not miss LHDN's notices.

Of course there are many who refuse to cooperate, arguing that the taxes collected by government will not be put to proper use, in an attempt to justify their tax evasion action.

Such an attitude is unhealthy. In the first place, it is against the law to dodge income taxes. Lest we forget, paying income tax is the responsibility and obligation of all citizens to ensure the government has sufficient funds to develop the country.

A law-abiding citizen must duly discharge his responsibilities, and paying income tax as per the requirement is one way of doing it. Once we have paid our dues, we have good reasons to oversee the operation of the government. If we don't even bother to discharge our duties as citizens, how are we going to make sure the country is moving on the right track?



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