Budget 2021: Dewan Rakyat passes Finance Bill 2020, tax breaks aplenty

KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has passed the Finance Bill 2020 that provides several tax breaks to cushion the impact of Covid-19, as provided for under Budget 2021.

The Bill, which was tabled by Deputy Finance Minister II Mohd Shahar Abdullah, seeks to amend several existing laws such as the Income Tax Act to provide higher tax deductions for those undertaking reskilling courses, and for the purchase of smartphones and computers, as well as for Covid-19 vaccinations.

In his wrapping up speech, Shahar dismissed allegations that the amendments would give an advantage to certain lawmakers including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (BN-Pekan), who is currently under trial on tax-related charges.

"This is the kind of perception that is currently being created to confuse the rakyat.

"Earlier, I mentioned in my speech, the amendments follow the passing of Budget 2021. It involves the welfare of the people and to introduce new approaches to collecting taxes without introducing new taxes.

"It is totally false to say that it is aimed at helping certain individuals.

"All these unrelated matters are taken out of context – we are doing this solely for the rakyat, ” he told the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Dec 16).

RSN Rayer (PH-Jelutong) had asked whether the amendments would bring any benefit to the rakyat or would just be an extra advantage to Najib who is facing tax-related court cases.

"I just want a simple explanation and (am) not trying to play politics. I can see that you are also close to Pekan. I am just questioning on behalf of the people," he said.

To this, Shahar said "Whoever needs to pay tax, will have to pay their tax. However, it is based on the decision made by the courts."

"I have said earlier, why are you raising this issue out of context? The amendments have taken into consideration the impact of the Covid-19 including on vaccines, upscaling, and tourism," he argued.

Under Section 46(1)(f), those undertaking any upskilling tertiary course, including those related to Master’s or doctorate degrees, will be eligible for deductions of between RM1,000 and RM7,000 for the assessment periods 2021 and 2022.

Those obtaining vaccinations for themselves, spouses or children will be entitled to a RM1,000 tax deduction under Section 46(1)(g) for the assessment years of 2021 and 2022.

This covers vaccinations such as pneumococcal, human pappillomavirus (HPV), influenza, rotavirus and Covid-19.

Deductions on medical expenses for serious diseases are also increased from RM6,000 to RM8,000.

Also provided are tax breaks of RM2,500 under Section 46(1)(p) for the purchase of personal computers, smartphones or tablets for personal use made between June 1 and Dec 31 this year.

Sport enthusiasts will also get a tax break of up to RM500 for purchasing sports equipment between 2021 and 2022.

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