Thursday, 16 March 2017

GST Audit Frameworks and ‘Devices’ - The RMCD pushes on

The Malaysia GST environment continues to evolve, as the Royal Malaysian Customs Department (RMCD) pushes on in refining its rules, processes and policies. Budget 2017 saw various amendments to tighten up the GST Framework, dealing with such matters as the GST treatment with regards to free zones, the recovery of tax from persons leaving Malaysia, an increase in the penalty rate for unpaid taxes, and a change in definition on the time of supply for imported services.

Outside of Budget 2017, one of the more significant developments in the past year has been the GST Audit Framework document published June last year by the RMCD. GST audits has been a hot topic amongst accountants and tax agents of late, especially with the RMCD identifying 50,000 companies that will be subject to the first phase of GST audits.



The GST Audit Framework document discusses GST audits in detail, laying out key information such as the full process of the audit, documents required, and the rights and responsibilities of the auditee.

One point that Customs was clearly keen to highlight in the Introduction of the GST Audit Framework was that being selected for an audit does not necessarily mean the company is not in compliance with the law, but to assist in ensuring that the company is in full compliance. While this may come as a relief to some, companies should not be quick to assume that any errors found during the audit will not be penalised, especially when errors begin to pile up.

Meanwhile, the gazetting of the Finance Act 2017 also saw the introduction of the controversial sales device which will be integrated with a company’s Point-of-Sale (POS) system.  According to the second Finance Minister, Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, one of the reasons for this initiative was to address the problem of errant traders asking their customers whether or not they wish to be charged GST. If the reply is no, the traders will not issue an invoice, thus ensuring that the transaction will not be recorded in the trader’s GST return, reducing its remittance.

Installing such a device would theoretically help curtail such practices, by giving the RMCD ‘real-time’ access to information on all sales made by such a company and the payments received. While the motives appear sound, there have been questions with regards to its implementation, such as privacy concerns and effectiveness of capturing the right information.

Regardless of the implementation problems that are likely to occur, the two initiatives mentioned above are yet more examples of how determined RMCD is to ensure that no stone is unturned in their pursuit of optimum collection of GST. Companies must make every effort to be informed and be ready when the RMCD comes to visit.

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