PETALING JAYA: Prices of newspapers and top-up charges for handphones will not go up with the Goods and Services Tax (GST). Anyone who has been mistakenly taxed for these items can get a refund if they have the receipts.
Several outlets have sold newspapers with GST and one convenience store chain has been given a cautionary note to recalibrate its GST calculating system at once.
Customs Department director-general Datuk Seri Khazali Ahmad said the confusion could be due to a computer glitch and the management of the stores should address this shortcoming immediately.
“If we find that they (traders) intentionally avoid implementing the GST properly, we will take action. We have a mechanism to identify who intentionally or unintentionally fails to implement GST correctly,” he said.
Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong also received several complaints from the public who had to pay 6% GST for newspapers from convenience stores.
“Newspapers are zero-rated. This means GST should not be imposed on newspapers bought anywhere,” he said on Facebook, urging people to keep the receipts to get refunds.
One convenience store, 7-Eleven Malaysia Holdings Berhad, later apologised for a “system error” that caused the mistake.
In a statement, it said it had withdrawn its newspaper products from the stands and was working on revising the prices.
“For anyone who was impacted today, we would appreciate if you could contact us using Private Message via 7-Eleven Malaysia’s official Facebook page or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details (e-mail and mobile number) for us to be in touch to further rectify the matter,” said 7-Eleven.
Customs GST director Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy also said several telecommunication companies were being investigated for increasing the price of prepaid top-up cards by 6%, going against instructions from the Customs Department.
“Before the GST, the price of top-up cards for prepaid services had already included a 6% sales and services tax (SST).
“Now that the GST has replaced the SST, the tax rate remains the same. It is like the same tax but with a different name.
“For a top-up card that costs RM10, the 6% tax is already absorbed so it should not be increased to RM10.60.
“We have sent letters to all telcos informing them not to increase their prices after GST. However, one or two telcos have gone against our instructions, so these companies will be investigated,” said Subromaniam at a press conference held at the Finance Ministry building.
Maxis and DiGi, two of the largest telcos in the country, have confirmed the increase. A prepaid reload that used to cost RM10 is now priced at RM10.60.
Maxis posted in its FAQ on its official website that customers were never charged for SST for prepaid reloads in the past.
A DiGi spokesman said: “Since prepaid is neither zero-rated nor GST-exempt, we are required by law to levy and collect 6% GST. In the past, the prices of prepaid products did not include SST.”
However, an industry source revealed that SST was previously absorbed by telcos in a bid to increase the adoption of prepaid plans.