PUTRAJAYA: The Customs Department has opened more than 5,000 investigation papers on cheating cases involving the Goods and Services Tax (GST) in the 2.5 years since its implementation.
Its director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy said the probe involves 5,000 out of 465,000 companies registered as of Dec 31 last year.
“These companies are ‘hardcore cheaters’ who intentionally cheat. They are not among those who genuinely do not understand (the GST system).
“Legal action will be taken against those who are guilty of cheating,” Subromaniam told reporters on Saturday.
He was speaking during the department’s ‘Largest Simultaneous Charity Cycling Event’ which attracted 2,000 participants in Putrajaya, and 6,000 people nationwide.
To curb cheating and increase understanding and awareness of GST among the public, Subromaniam said the department has introduced a “GST Ambassadors” programme.
“The department’s personnel will take on the role of ambassadors to help companies manage their GST claims, and further increase compliance among businesses in the country.
“We believe this ‘informed compliance’ strategy, where we reach out to (the business community), is the best way to improve and increase GST awareness levels.
“Meanwhile, for ‘hardcore cheaters’, we will implement the ‘enforced compliance’ approach by carrying out stricter enforcement,” he added.
Subromaniam added that the department targets to achieve RM43 billion in GST collection in 2017 – one billion ringgit more than 2016.
“We are happy that we were able to surpass our target of RM42 billion (in 2017). The actual amount of our collection will be announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak next week,” he added.
On a related note, he urged certain quarters not to politicise the GST system, as it has proved to be an effective tax collection method compared to the Sales and Services Tax (SST), which it replaced.
“We have about 465,000 companies registered (today), but during the SST, there were only 200,000 companies (registered).
“This shows that there was a ‘black economy’ under the SST – all (this was exposed after the imposition of) GST. This is one of the upsides of the GST.
(So) why should we go back to SST?” he said.
Subromaniam added that the GST was implemented for the good of the people, with the money collected returning back to the rakyat through various government programmes.
“GST is only paid by those who are earning well, and can afford to pay tax. There is no need to politicise GST, as it is done for the betterment of the country,” he said.