Malaysian timber tycoon sues Australian government in tax dispute

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian timber tycoon Hii Yii Ann is suing the Australian government and its tax office (ATO) for imposing an AUD49mil (RM160mil) tax assessment on him over his income earned outside Australia.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Hii's lead counsel Datuk Alvin John said the decision of the ATO dated Dec 20, 2013 was invalid as Hii is a Malaysian and has been declaring his tax deductions in Malaysia over his earnings from five countries.

John said that the ATO should have contacted the Malaysian authorities over his client's particulars on his tax deductions before imposing such a decision on him.

He added that under Australian tax laws, the ATO has the power to claim taxes from any person who has resided in Australia for at least six months in a year.

"My client visited Australia from 2001 to see his six children studying in Australia but he never stayed for long periods there," said John.

John said that Hii is claiming that Australia has no right to make a claim against him under their tax laws as Hii is a registered tax resident of Malaysia.

He added that the 56-year-old Hii holds a Malaysian passport, birth certificate and identity card.

Meanwhile, another member of Hii's legal team Mohd Rizal Yaakob said the case is now set for hearing before High Court judge Justice S.Nantha Balan.

Rizal added that the court has set Dec 6 for case management.

In his originating summons dated July 22, Hii is seeking a declaration from the court that he was a tax resident of Malaysia from 2001 to 2009, and that the decision of the ATO is invalid.

Hii is also seeking a declaration that the defendants have breached the spirit and intent of the Dual Tax Agreement executed between Australia and Malaysia in 1980.

He has named the Commissioner of Taxation of the Commonwealth of Australia, his deputy and the Commonwealth of Australia as defendants in his suit.




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