KUALA LUMPUR: Nobody can escape the tax man, including past and present ministers, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Dr Mahathir said this when asked if there would be more such actions after former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was slapped with a tax bill of about RM1.5bil by the Inland Revenue Board (IRB).
“Yes, but not only past ministers, even the present ones. If they don’t pay, IRB will go after them," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby on Thursday (April 4).
A financial daily quoted sources as saying that the IRB had sent a letter Najib over a week ago on backdated tax amounts for the years 2011 to 2017.
IRB’s investigation assessment showed that Najib had not declared taxable income of close to RM4bil during that period.
The daily also quoted sources as saying that the amount included the RM2.6bil from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Dr Mahathir said during Najib's tenure as prime minister, a huge amount of tax was imposed on certain individuals, backdated to more than 10 years.
“That, of course, is not legal. You can’t backdate or find new ways of computing the tax, and then backdate it on those who already paid their tax according to former interpretation of the law,” he said.
On the Council of Eminent Persons’ (CEP) 100-day report, he said it was not suitable for the government to release it yet as it risked facing legal action.
“We have to be very careful in exposing this because this is actually a private set-up to advise me and the government on what can be done and what cannot be done.
“But in the process, they maybe mentioned names, and all that may expose the government to action for defamation,” he said.