The Tourism Tax Act 2017, which took effect on Sept 1, requires hotel operators to register with the Customs Department. A fine of RM15,000 is imposed on late registration or non-registration. The act also empowers the Customs Department to impose a maximum fine of RM30,000, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both.
Scope and Rate
Tourism tax is imposed on a flat-rate basis — RM10 per night of accommodation. It is levied only on foreign tourists.
The scope or purpose of visit could either be for recreation, business, sports tourism or to seek medical treatment in Malaysia, as long as the foreigners stay in designated accommodations. Free or complimentary accommodations provided to foreign tourists are also subject to the tourism tax.
The designated accommodations that are liable for tourism tax comprise hotels, inns, rest and lodging houses, apartment hotels, timeshare resorts, international schools offering boarding houses, Airbnb, beach houses and private clubs with at least five rooms.
Businesses providing living accommodations to foreign employees, homestays or kampung stays registered with the Tourism and Culture Ministry are exempted from tourism tax.
In addition, tourism tax would not be imposed on accommodations outside an ordinary building, such as campsites, caravans, boathouses by the seaside or riverside, as well as boats, vessels and ships.
Operators of designated accommodations were required to register with the Customs Department by Aug 31. Each hotel operator will receive a tourism tax identification number and a certificate of registration.
Issuing compliance tax
Special requirements such as the amount of tourism tax collected, the rates and other charges (room charges, food and beverage, laundry services and Goods and Services Tax), must be included in the tax invoices (for GST registrants) and invoices (for non-GST registrants).
Returns Submission and Payment
The returns, together with the amount of tourism tax collected, must be submitted to the Customs Department during each taxable period.
Generally, a taxable period comprises three months and the due date for submission is within a month upon the expiry of the three-month period.
Returns can be submitted either through online (MyTTx) or manually through post offices. It is advisable to submit the returns (TTx-03) online as returns risk getting lost through manual submission.
The payment of tourism tax can be done only through e-banking or postal methods. E-banking is recommended as prompt payment is crucial.
Records of tax payment and collection must be kept for seven years. They can either be in English and Bahasa Malaysia.
It is hoped that the tourism tax remains at a flat rate, computed based on the number of nights stayed, to avoid the complications of market-based value to ensure Malaysia stays competitive.
Operators can work with tax specialists to install relevant applications in their billing systems to ensure the accurate computation of GST and tourism tax.
Choong Hui Yan