Understanding RPGT

Most of us at some point in life would like to own a house(s). Most of us would also have moved house at some point in our life now. However, do you really know what are some of the tax implications of moving houses and selling off the previous residence?

 

Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) in Malaysia is a tax levied upon disposal of a real property, mainly to do with land, paid to the IRB. Since it is paid upon disposal, it is applicable to the vendor of the transaction.

  1. Introduction

Under section 3 of the RPGT Act 1976, it states that

Real property is defined as “any land situated in Malaysia” and any interest, option or other rights in or over such land”. If you have any knowledge of the National Land Code, this includes leases, licenses and charges where you have “disposed” of them.

Depending on when you sell the piece of land, you will be charged different RPGT rates:

Cr: MahWengKwai & Associates

2. How is RPGT calculated?

In arriving the tax payable upon disposal, the following three-step equations are used.

Step 1: Chargeable Gain = Disposal Price – Purchase Price – Miscellaneous Charges

Step 2: Net Chargeable Gain = Chargeable Gain – Exemption waiver (RM10k or 10% of chargeable gain, whichever is higher)

Step 3: RPGT payable = Net Chargeable Gain x RPGT Rate

3. Items exempted from RPGT

Since RPGT is charged upon a gain from disposal, it is important to first determine when the acquisition and disposal actually happened, at what consideration both events were completed and whether a loss or gain was made. This is to prevent any fraud/ tax evasion because parties may purposefully conduct the transaction at below market value price to make what is actually a profitable transaction to a loss-making one and for the party to claim allowable losses. There are a few instances where you can get RPGT exemptions or deductions.

(a) Allowable loss is defined as under section 7 subsection (4)

And subsection (b) deals with where you have no gains to be reduced, it will be brought forward to subsequent years until the allowable loss has been fully absorbed, even if it was done 5 years after acquisition.

(b) Incidental cost: The RPGT Act 1976 allows certain incidental costs of the acquisition of the property and disposal of the property to be taken into account. This is where expenditure wholly and exclusively incurred by the disposer for the purposes of the acquisition or the disposal such as legal fees for the acquisition and disposal of the property and estate agency fees.

(c) No gain no loss: You also do not need to pay RPGT where acquisition cost equals disposal cost at which you are in a no gain no loss situation.

(d) Private residence: Accordingly, every citizen in Malaysia (and also PR residence) is entitled to a “once in a lifetime” exemption on disposal of a private residence. A private residence is a building or part of a building in Malaysia owned by an individual and occupied or certified fit for occupation as a place of residence.

Only residence/ persons are able to claim for this exemption. This does not apply to companies holding private residence.

(e) Transfer of property between family members as gifts

Transfer of real property as gifts between parent/ children, husband/ wife or grandparents/ child is also exempted.

For the donor, if he is a Malaysian citizen, he is deemed to have received no gain and suffered no losses.

For the receiver, if the gift is made within five years after the date of acquisition by the donor, the recipient shall be deemed to acquire the asset at an acquisition price equal to the acquisition price paid by the donor plus the permitted expenses incurred by the donor.

4. How is RPGT paid?

Upon disposal of a property, it is the duty on the part of the acquirer’s lawyers to retain and remit 3% of the purchase price from the deposit to the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) within 60 days upon disposal. If the 3% is found to be higher than the tax payable, the IRB will refund; If the 3% is lower than the tax payable, the vendor might be charged an additional penalty of 10% of the amount outstanding upon failure to furnish the outstanding amount within time.

It might be noteworthy to add that owing to the Finance Act 2017, the amount to be retained by the acquirer had increased from 3% to 7% of the purchase price where the vendor is not a Malaysian citizen nor a permanent resident.

Where a transaction is conducted consists not wholly in money, the acquirer shall either retain the whole of the money or a sum not exceeding 3% of the total value of consideration, whichever is lower.

Conclusion:

After listening to a podcast on RPGT on BFM89.9, it is noted that RPGT contributes only 0.7% of the total revenue received by the government. That being said, it is reported that Capital Gains Tax will not include gains on shares in Budget 2018. This is to keep Bursa Malaysia competitive and attractive for investors thus the only Capital Gains Tax in Malaysia is only on Real Property at the moment.

To be honest, I am very much surprised by how little RPGT contributes to the government’s revenue considering that land prices can be very steep at times. I think this is the reason why there are many case law on even if people hold real property for more than 5 years, they may be charged the income tax rate of 24% as oppose to RPGT rate of 5% because they are deemed to be trading properties instead of investing. Note that the IRB does not consider 5 years to be a substantially long period for an investment. So take note of this if you plan to invest in real property in the future or else you might end up having to pay more than you think.

5 Survival Tips for Students Awaiting CLP Results

It is only a couple of days away from the release of the long-awaited Certificate In Legal Practice (CLP) examination that was held in July 2018.

What is the CLP exam?

Every year, many hopefuls take the CLP exam in hopes of becoming a “qualified person” under the Legal Profession Act 1976 (“LPA”), which is a precursor (for foreign law graduates) to becoming a lawyer in Malaysia without having to go overseas to obtain a qualification.

If you are a CLP candidate this year, you are probably worried about your results.

Here are 5 tips to help you keep your sanity.

#1 Keep busy

Whether it is swamping yourself with work, preparing for a marathon or binging a new series on Netflix, everyone knows that time flies when you’re occupied.

Vectors at Vecteezy - https://www.vecteezy.com
Play sudoku. With a pen. Live dangerously.

You know the proverb, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’?

Don’t let the devil set up shop there. Sue him for trespass.

Also, for goodness sake, don’t contribute to the mass hysteria that is the speculation of a leak of the exam results. Go do something unrelated to CLP.

#2 Get enough sleep

If you have been deliberately depriving yourself of proper rest, then this is relevant to you. Otherwise, if you have sleep problems from the sheer anxiety of waiting for the results, then skip this bit.

There are good reasons for getting a full night’s sleep running up to the big day.

For one, you’re going to need enough energy to deal with the outcome. If you pass, then you will be well-rested enough to drive to LPQB to collect your certificate. If you fail one paper, then you have enough energy to hit the ground running in preparation for the upcoming resit on 1 Nov 2018. If you fail more than one paper, then you will need all the help you can get to move on with life.

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Tip: The more time you spend sleeping, the less time you spend worrying.

#3 Breathe

This may seem incredibly intuitive for most people, but many Malaysians are in denial about experiencing depression or anxiety. While some level of anxiety prior to an important event is normal (and beneficial), excessive feelings of anxiety can be debilitating and should not be downplayed.

Even if you don’t have severe levels of anxiety, it helps to use breathing techniques to stay calm during this period. There are many breathing techniques out there. Here are some of them.

My personal favourite is the 4-7-8 technique.

#4 Challenge your own expectations

I know of many people who are focusing on the worst possible scenario i.e. in the event that they do not pass the exam. Some scenarios involve their family members disowning them, or being a greater burden to their family.

Firstly, I want to say that I think that most of these concerns are based in reality. No one should be told that their fears are manufactured or invalid.

Nevertheless, in trying times such as these, it is natural for most people exaggerate the potential impact of a negative outcome. Although there is some use in this, in that it helps us prepare for the worst case scenario, we should challenge our expectations of what will really happen.

Perhaps it will not be as bad as you think.

vector-self
Don’t spend too much time swimming in your own thoughts.

In any case, whatever the outcome, you will be able to get through it, eventually.

Which brings me to my last point.

#5 Know that there is nothing you can do at this stage and that failing the CLP exam does not spell the end of your life. It may bring about unpleasant consequences, but like many things in life, those too will pass.

Of course, the stakes are different for everyone. Some still have the option of taking the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), while others may have to seriously consider a career in another profession altogether.

No matter what the outcome is, remember that your self-worth is not tied to a single life event. Even when it came to preparation for the CLP exam, it took a million small acts to get to where you are today. The acceptance of this Wednesday’s outcome is simply one of the acts that you must do. In due time, you will have moved past this.

You’re going to be OK.

Post–Uber/ Grab merger: Better or worse?

A few days ago, my friend and I decided to head to Sri Hartamas from KL Sentral for a healthy brunch at lunchtime. Prices during lunch hour are often higher because (of course) demand/ supply so we weren’t expecting it to be cheap but neither did we expect it to be so high. For Grab, it was RM20 which made us reconsider if the brunch was worth the trip (it’s the price of an entire meal!) For MyCar (another ride-hailing app), it was only RM11 so we were still able to get our smoothie bowls without a major heart pain. Comparing the price between Grab and MyCar, it was a massive 81% increase! Additionally, Grab used to offer many discounts and rebates in the past through text messages to its users but however, these are now nowhere to be seen.

However, as we were planning to head to Bukit Bintang for tea time after brunch, we could not book a MyCar and were forced to book a Grab which the price was higher compared to the former. This may be due to the fact that the area we were in was relatively secluded and not very convenient so the availability of MyCar was very scarce. However for Grab, being the bigger player in the market, it has more drivers hence higher coverage area so we had to use Grab instead.

I am sure many Grab passengers were disappointed with how Grab is now compared to how it was pre-merger. The price had increased but Grab claims that the prices were due to multiple factors such as surge pricing during peak hours, the algorithm to set the price based on driver availability and the number of bookings from a particular location. Weather is also an important factor taken that it was previously claimed that Malaysians would only take metered taxis during raining days or else it would be too expensive.

So what did the merger do?

In Malaysia, the MyCC has (belatedly) announced an intention to study the merger. Currently, Putrajaya is studying the risk of monopoly within the country’s ride-hailing market, which has been triggered by the merger between Grab and Uber.

A new player called Diffride has an interesting operating strategy which appears to be different from the conventional ride-hailing strategy where the company says it will only charge drivers a fee of RM5 per day to use the platform, and no commission. It will be interesting to see if this model is sustainable for the company considering that they only have 2000 drivers at the moment with an anticipated 4000 to join by the end of the year.

As reported previously, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) and Vietnam Competition Commission had both stalled the merger citing “anti-competitive concerns”. Our counterpart across the border has done much more scrutiny and checks which has led to the CCCS to provisionally determine that ride-hailing firm Grab’s acquisition of American rival Uber’s South-east Asian business is an infringement of competition laws. On 24th September 2018, they have imposed a combined fine of S$13million of their infringement! (It was also revealed that the Uber/ Grab had even provided for a mechanism to apportion eventual antitrust financial penalties so it can be said that they saw this coming).

Honestly, it should have been a shining red light in the face of competition authorities that such a merger would cause competition concerns so I am *very very* glad that the CCCS finds that the merger had substantially lessened competition. Some of the provisional findings by the CCCS were interesting such as:

  • Uber would not have left the Singapore market in the near to medium term in the absence of the Transaction.
  • Uber had entered into an agreement to collaborate with ComfortDelGro with the introduction of UberFlash to compete with Grab, and the collaboration was only withdrawn after the Transaction.
  • Market share of taxi booking service was only at 15%. Grab holds a market share of 80%.
  • Fares have increased between 10-15%.
  • Parties have not been able to show that the Transaction gives rise to efficiencies that would outweigh the harm to competition.

Potential remedies and penalties

Reading the press release, I was particularly intrigued where the CCCS boldly said “CCCS may require the Parties to unwind the Transaction”. Such a move is often threatened but rare in practice but it is within their jurisdiction. Under Singapore’s merger notification regime, the Parties had the option of notifying the Transaction for CCCS’s clearance or seeking CCCS’s confidential advice prior to completing the Transaction. In the EU, parties were required to inform any intention of a merger which had an EU dimension.

Measures were ordered by CCCS to allow lower barriers to entry and improve market contestability which includes:

a. The removal of exclusivity obligations on all drivers who drive on Grab’s platform including rentals

b. The removal of Grab’s exclusivity arrangements with any taxi/CPHC fleet

c. The maintenance of Grab’s pre-Transaction pricing algorithm & commission rates until competition

d. Requiring Uber to sell all or part of Lion City Rentals assets to any potential competitor who makes a reasonable offer and preventing Uber from selling to Grab without CCCS’s prior approval.

Furthermore, CCCS said it may suspend the measures on an interim basis if a rival could garner over 30% of total rides in the ride-hailing services market in a month. It would remove the restrictions if the rival could maintain it for 6 months.

In Vietnam, the deal remains under competition authorities review which has warned that it could be blocked if the firms’ combined market share in Vietnam exceeds 50%.

In the Philippines, where the merger has been approved, the competition authorities will continue to monitor Grab’s compliance with conditions intended to improve the quality of service, with any breaches possibly resulting in fines.

Conclusion:

For now, worse. I find it hard to believe that Grab would charge an outrageous 81% higher than a smaller market player (where are the economies of scale theory here?). This also proves that the larger the firm, the more they likely they will consider consumer welfare. I echoed my previous post about the benefits a merger can bring: better resources, saving failing firms, barriers to exit and more. However, mergers have a much more, almost irreversible, impact on the competition market than say an abuse of dominant position. You can then later penalise an undertaking for an abuse post-merger, but not having a dominant position is always better because “prevention is always better than cure” so preventing the root of the problem is more ideal.

I would like to say that I am very impressed with CCCS’s media release by detailing the theory of harm and specifying the remedies that should be undertaken by Grab. Competition authorities are always trying to balance whether should they on one-hand empower smaller entities to raise competition or encourage growth and innovation by having less scrutiny over larger enterprises. Regardless, I am still of the view that it’s better to be safe than sorry and that the competitive levels are more contestable in the near future.