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Tax on religious bodies: Where's proof of abuse?
Published on: Thursday, January 12, 2017

Labuan: The Advisor to the island's largest Taoist Temple (Pak Sin Mew) Datuk Wong Kii Hii said Labuan shared the reservations of Sabah and Sarawak over the move to compel religious organisations to pay income tax.

"The amendment to the Income Tax Act 1967 was said to have been done to plug loopholes in the present system and prevent the use of donations for personal gains. This is a flimsy excuse because it is doubtful.

"If there were isolated cases, those could be handled by the IRB instead of punishing all religions, especially non-Muslims, who will be affected most because they don't depend on government funding.

He suggested that the Finance Ministry restudy and clarify the amendments since it has caused an uproar among non-Muslim religious organisations.

"Evidence should be provided on how many cases of abuse of donations by prayer houses have been detected.

"This is to avoid people from believing that the amendment's is a veiled attempt to curb the propagation of other faiths who can only build temples and chapels through such donations," he said.

Wong noted that Chinese and Hindu temples and churches needed regular donations for building maintenance, repairs and development.

"In fact our proposal is that all donations to prayer houses and schools be exempted from tax so that donors would also benefit and be encouraged.

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