For those who do not know about the entertainment tax in Selangor, the state government takes 15% of ticket sales from local artists and 25% of ticket sales from international artists that perform in the state.
Despite the entertainment industry in Malaysia being one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the government had not exempted or reduced such taxes. This has also hindered the industry’s recovery post-pandemic.
Malaysian rapper, Altimet, has since spoken out on behalf of all local artists and entertainers, calling out to the state government to consider exempting the tax.
Taking it to his Facebook page, he shared how disappointed he was to see his industry buddies sought to start looking for gigs since the lockdowns started in the country.
“Not all sectors in this industry are operating as usual. Not all movers and shakers are given help to get back to work again. One example that is close to my heart is the issue of the entertainment tax council in my own state, Selangor.”
“In fact, paying these taxes is normal, and not a problem under normal circumstances. But, it now becomes a heavy burden when imposed on one of the industries most affected during the pandemic.” he said.
Meanwhile, Altimet said he believes that the state government needs to set a better example of how to nurture artistes who have built careers there.
“Many of our relatives migrated to Selangor to earn a living, including the children of the country’s arts. It is not surprising that the majority of modern Malaysian art and culture were born in this state, and spread throughout the country. Selangor leads Malaysia, in the field of creative economy in addition to other sectors.” he said.
Altimet then pleaded to the Selangor government to exempt the entertainment tax temporarily. He then pointed out that the state government has lost about RM50 million in revenue from this entertainment tax.
While this amount that has not been harvested by artists and performers during the last 2 years is much smaller than that number, the impact on them is much greater, said Altimet.
Altimet then pointed out that if the situation becomes too challenging for artists and musicians to make a living in Selangor, they’ll start looking for better opportunities in other states and cause a ‘creative economy brain drain’.
His sentiments were echoed by Director, actor, writer and artistic director at the Instant Cafe Theatre, Jo Kukathas as she shared her opinion on the dooming entertainment tax. She revealed that these taxes would have to be paid even before the ticket sales were completed.
“Just to clarify, the Selangor government is taking 15% tax on local performances and 25% tax on performances with international artists. So, for example, if you want a Thai dancer to collaborate with you, you must first pay 25% of your ticket sales to the Selangor government. Not profit. Sales. Up front,” she said.
She went on to explain how the entertainment industry had previously thrived without the tax.
“The justification is that this was the practice previously. Well, there was a reason why this practice was abandoned – it was unfair and did nothing to encourage the growth of the arts. When the tax was removed, local arts flourished,” she added.
Jo also pointed out that the entertainment tax was not the only problematic aspect that was originally removed.
“It wasn’t just the instruction to remove entertainment tax that was significant. It was the removal of the burdensome, time-consuming system of ‘permits’. With less censorship in Selangor, the arts flourished. The current administration seems determined to take us backwards.” she said.
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