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Hoteliers caught by surprise
Published on: Friday, August 11, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Many hoteliers said the Federal Tourism and Culture Ministry has already registered them for the Tourism Tax collection due for implementation next month even without them applying to do so.

Hence, they said, a Daily Express report on Wednesday informing operators that they must register online at www.myttx.customs.gov.my was ironic.

"To our surprise and amazement, the Ministry even sent the numbered certificate of registration in advance to our members," said Sabah Hotels Association head Christopher Chan on the speed at which the Ministry worked on this step, just like the passing of the Tourism Tax Bill in Parliament at 5am two months back.

Prior to that, there were rumours that Matta and MHA representatives were dropped from the Tourism Board for dissension on the earlier tourism tax proposal.

With the tourism tax in operation in West Malaysia by Sept. 1, foreign tourists boarding at premises including hotels, inns, rest houses and motels would burden the operators of such businesses to collect the tourism tax charged at a flat rate of RM10 per room per night to be channelled through the Customs Department to the Federal government coffers.

Failure to do so could attract a hefty fine up to RM30,000 besides other penalties. Chan maintained that the Ministry, Customs and state authorities had yet to liaise with them on how to operationalise the tourism tax mechanism, using what accounting software compatible with what the Customs required.

Sabah and Sarawak are still negotiating with the Federal Ministry for entitlement of more than RM1 from the RM10 collected on the premise that both states spend millions of ringgit of their own to promote the two states.

AirBnB operators with premises with less than four rooms stand to benefit from such tourism tax measures much to the chagrin of some hoteliers peeved with the increased overheads of hiring employees to handle the tourism tax compliance aspects, or place the burden on existing staff.

Some hoteliers alleged that these groups of accommodation business do not register their business with licensing authorities, do not submit tax returns, have no income reporting or understate personal income and make up what is known as the underground or shadow economy. - David Thien

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