The Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) can now access taxpayers bank accounts without the need to get consent nor give warning to the taxpayers for review or investigations, following the passing of the Finance Bill 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday (15 December).
According to The Vibes, the bill that was passed in the Dewan Rakyat with a simple voice vote after it was put up for voting by former deputy speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who was chairing the session.
Under the bill, a new provision will be included in the Income Tax Act 1967 and it grants LHDN the power to access bank account information for the purpose of making garnishee order applications.
In addition, LHDN will also no longer need to inform taxpayers when requesting their bank account details from banks for review or investigation, reported Sin Chew Daily.
It is also reported that the banks are now allowed to disclose to anyone that such request had been made by the LHDN.
Previously, taxpayers were required to sign a consent form before banks were allowed to furnish relevant information to authorities.
However, banks are compelled to comply with the specific timeline or in the event that it discloses such requests by the tax department to any person, else, they shall be found guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of RM200 and RM20,000, or a maximum of six months’ jail, or both.
Nonetheless, Sin Chew reported that the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which was enacted to protect confidential information, will not be applicable when enforcing in the future as banks will no longer need to obtain consent from bank account owners before furnishing any information to LHDN.
The Finance Deputy Minister I Mohd Shahar Abdullah had explained that this new provision is required to ensure smooth garnishee proceedings.
He told the Dewan Rakyat that if banks were to inform their account holders of potential garnishee proceedings, there is a possibility that the debtors will remove all of their monies from the bank.
“This would ensure that the garnishee procedure cannot be carried out, hence the rationale behind introducing the amendment. Further, we have already consulted Bank Negara Malaysia before suggesting amendments.” he said.