Friday, May 2, 2008

报税 报税 报报税

Tax, tax, all over! (Not-so-direct translation.)

After being tax-free for so many years, I couldn't escape no more. April 30 was the big day, and it was just a week away. The sense of urgency was getting more and more intense!

Mountains of questions and doubts running in my mind. Am I taxable? What should a first-timer do to get registered? Is it tedious to fill in the forms
? Is e-Filing reliable? What if I miss the deadline?

A quick chat with my HR manager shed some lights. Those who earned RM24,000 and above should be aware that they 'may' have to pay tax and hence are advisable to file in.

Apparently the figure is just a rough guideline. You may have heard other versions like RM23,800 or even RM25,000. It's better that you fill up the form and determine it yourself.

The thing is, how would a first-timer know all these? There is no proper channel or guidelines whatsoever published anywhere. It's all word of mouth and everyone gives different versions based on his/her personal experience and to my surprise, no one could even remember how did they register an income tax account for the very first time.

The official website of Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia may be a good place to look for some proper guidance. Cheesy web design and poor page layout aside, the button-like links to sections such as e-Filing, Forms, e-Bayaran are big and obvious enough, but where should a first-timer go next?

I then stumbled into this notice, which I thought would be the one I've been looking for. Well it's actually a GIF image, the reason of choosing to use an image over text is unknown.

Basically it says
first-timer should visit the nearest Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (or LHDNM in short) branch with a copy of your I.C. and salary slip. The strange thing here is the 'salary slip' (I supposed it means 'payslip'). It should actually be the EA form instead.

The next thing is about the 'nearest' LHDNM branch. I'm staying in Kepong, so naturally I'd go look for a branch that's in KL and nearest to where I stay. A quick view on the LHDNM branches page reveals the closest branch is in Jalan Duta. Only problem -- there are 5 of them -- five LHDNM branches located in Jalan Duta. Some different block, some different floor. Check it out:
With the fear of finding out which is the right address in mind, I picked the Petaling Jaya branch instead.

It was the last Saturday of April, the office was pretty happening. A special area was set up for the e-Filing registration and personal computers were allocated for tax payers to do their submission on the spot.

I approached a guy officer, explaining that I'm a first timer and would like to register for a new income tax account. He had a quick look at my EA form, then passed me a registration form and told me to come back on Monday.

New account registration can only be processed during normal office hours. They have had an office set up exclusively for tax submission and e-Filing, yet they can't even process a new account registration.

I was about to leave the office. I then thought I should ask the same officer how to tell weather a person is taxable by looking at his/her EA form, like what he did just now. He seemed so puzzled to see me approaching him again and had problem understanding what I wanted to know from him. A more experienced and higher rank lady officer, saw us and came over.

After understanding my situation she told me that I'll have to come back again on weekdays as the counter for opening a new income tax account was close, but told the guy officer to check my I.C. number on the system as I might already have an account.

Turned out my ex-company has already opened one for me.

That really has saved plenty of my time. I got my PIN number right away and I'm glad that I don't have to visit this office again, for a year to say the least.

It keeps me wondering why not all officers are trained to handle situation like this one. It's like assuming every citizen would automatically have an income tax account. Not only that, the information stated on the website is also incorrect ('salary slip' instead of 'EA form').

There should also be a proper channel conducting the right idea of filing in your earnings. Currently many still believe that -- if I do file in, I gotta pay.

That's not true. Filing in your revenue is just telling the Government how much you have earned the year before, you might not have to pay, even a cent! The system will do all the necessary calculation for you to determine whether you are taxable, or not, based on the figures you provided with.

The rest of the story is just a matter of filling in the blanks and several clicks. I'm glad that the Government has simplified the electronic tax filing process so much that it only takes minutes to complete a submission. The notorious "Installing certificate with a floppy disk" issue 2 years ago is no longer heard and seen.

That concludes my very first experience of doing tax filing. Now I gotta make sure that I keep all my magazine and stationery receipts in a safe place.

And finally, something I find it rather amusing:

A 'Clamping Zone' sign at, not the parking lot, but the lift lobby. Uhh, bikers beware?