Posts Tagged ‘LHDN’

Filing taxes online in Malaysia

Executive summary: If you make a mistake in your e-filing for taxes, you have to print out the tax form, submit supporting documents, write a cover letter, and send it over to the tax office, anytime after the tax madness of pre-April 30, is over. Read on, for the tale.

So, if you’ve been following my tweets, you know I’ve been a little under the weather lately. Plus I just flew back from San Francisco. No, I do not have swine flu, its just sinuses acting up. Nonetheless, the government of Malaysia’s, Inland Revenue Board (LHDN/Hasil/tax office) doesn’t believe in excuses, and had set an April 30 deadline (showing them my passport, I doubt would have been any help).

Much like Suanie, this is my first year of filing taxes. I thought I’ll try the e-Hasil method, which is basically e-filing, right in your web browser.

First up, the system is available in English. OK, the content is mostly available in English (its filled with Bahasa Malaysia at the top, with the English text, in small print), and the buttons are all in Bahasa Malaysia, but you can guess what needs to be done.

Getting my e-filing PIN was easy. I just went to a very crowded LHDN office, and asked the nice lady over the counter. I’m surprised she engaged with me, entirely in English, without any complaint. I got my Tax ID, my e-filing PIN number, and some instructions.

Upon going home, I attempted to get it all working. Its pretty easy, if you can get connected to the site (I ended up tunnelling my traffic – and Gareth warns that the servers do crash). It really did take less than 15 minutes. I just input my salary, how much I could deduct (charity, books, and medication for parents — who knew sporting equipment counted too? Time to buy some this year.)

And then, the next day, I realise I had made a boo boo. I had not input the maximum deduction for EPF. Why? Because the software didn’t translate it properly, and it did only say “KWSP”, not “EPF”. So there’s a RM6,000 deduction, making my taxes not seem in order (in a way that benefits me, might I add — this should add to my refund).

The site, is all written in ASP. There definitely are some checks, via JavaScript in some fields. It works fine using Firefox on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (I got to test it all — my parents too, decided to go the e-filing route this year).

Now, noting that there is already some JavaScript, why not, at the field which asks you about EPF (or KWSP as they put it), there be an alert? After all, if you’re paying taxes, you’re definitely paying for contributions to your retirement, to the EPF/KWSP.

To make matters worse, once you’ve submitted the form online, and “signed” it, you can’t amend it. I called up the Shah Alam office (because all other numbers went to hell), at 03-55103202, to ask for help. I must shout out to Twitter user, @derekw who had already emailed the tax office before with regards to a similar question. His email to me, was really useful.

I got transferred three times before I got to someone that spoke English to me. His instructions were simple: write a cover letter, state your case, attach the print out of the tax return, plus attach the document(s) required to support your claim. In my case, the nice bloke told me to just write the cover letter, and attach my EA form, which comes from my employer. And he said, don’t bother doing it now, just do it anytime next week (or later, even), since the offices are all too crowded now.

So, that’s been my tax tale. How can all this be improved? What’s good, what’s bad?

  • Good: it works with Firefox. It also seems to be cross-platform. It could be worse — like some Windows based software, that will make you vomit
  • Bad: its written in ASP, and uses Microsoft technology (Windows 2000, IIS 5). Spending money of the rakyat should be wiser, and using proprietary software, is bad.
  • Bad: servers need to scale. Failing, or being slow, under traffic, is just unacceptable. You don’t need “extra” machines, so maybe some form of scale-to-cloud, during peak season.
  • Bad: there are some checks now, with JavaScript, but there should be more checks on mandatory things (case in point, my EPF problem)
  • Good: Its bi-lingual.
  • Bad: the English interface needs improvement. Buttons need to be translated properly
  • Bad: editing your tax returns, should be available, till the deadline, in the respective year
  • Good: PDF’s are generated of your receipt, as well as your tax form

Again, thanks to the Twitterverse being helpful: @ShaolinTiger, @derekw, @kamal, and @mikefoong. In other news, I can heartily recommend you read: Why should we pay income tax to the BN? and the running commentary there, as well as on Suanie’s post.