In Malaysia, the Income Tax Act 1967 governs the imposition of income tax. However, in 1990 a separate tax act, the Labuan Business Activity Tax Act, was introduced to govern the imposition of tax on Labuan business activities carried out by Labuan entities. The Labuan act has now been substantially revised following Budget 2019. In particular, Labuan entities can no longer elect to pay the RM20,000 flat tax rate; instead, they will be subject to 3% tax on chargeable profits from any Labuan business activity.
In a recent case, IBM Malaysia applied for an advance ruling from the director general of inland revenue (DGIR) to determine whether a payment made by it to IBM Ireland under a software distribution agreement would be considered royalty under the Income Tax Act and thus subject to withholding tax. One of the issues raised by the DGIR for consideration by the court was whether the advance ruling was a decision amenable to judicial review.
Members of the Malaysian Bar recently complained that Inland Revenue Board officers had carried out raids on them in order to audit their clients' accounts and gain access to those records. The Malaysian Bar then wrote to the director general of inland revenue (DGIR), stating that such audits breached the principle of solicitor-client privilege. However, the DGIR held that the Income Tax Act overrode the provisions of the Evidence Act that conferred solicitor-client privilege.