Govt wants to collect tax from tourists staying at accommodation premises

KUALA LUMPUR: The government wants to collect tax from tourists staying at accommodation premises through a proposed Tourism Tax Bill 2017.

The bill was tabled by Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz in the Dewan Rakyat for first reading today.

The Tourism Tax rate would be fixed at a later stage, by the Finance Minister, with the concurrence of Tourism Minister.

“A tax to be known as tourism tax shall be charged and levied on a tourist staying at any accommodation premises made available by an operator at the rate fixed by Minister in accordance with Section 8,” the bill stated.

With the passing of the bill, it shall be the duty of a tourist to pay the tourism tax to the operator of the accommodation premises.

“Where more than one tourists are staying in the same accommodation at the same time and the tourism tax has been paid by any one of the tourists, the other tourists staying shall not be liable to pay tourism tax,” the bill stated.

The Royal Malaysian Customs Department have been entrusted to collect the tourism tax.

Clause 9 of the proposed law empowers the Finance Minister to exempt any tourist or class of tourists from the payment of the whole or any part of the tourism tax, or also to exempt any operator from collecting tourism tax.

In case an offence is committed, the proposed act empowers a senior officer of customs under the Criminal Procedure Code or Act 593 for the purpose of enforcement, inspection and investigation.

Hotel or accommodation premises operators shall register with the Customs within 30 days after the act is gazetted, or will be subject to RM30,000 fine or an imprisonment term of not exceeding one year.

An operator should keep records of tourism tax liability in Malaysia for seven years.

Clause 27 allows Customs Director General to request the Immigration Department to prevent any person from leaving the country, if a person owes tourism tax or penalties to the government.

“The Director of Immigration may retain travel documents if a request has been made by the Customs Director General,” the bill stated.