IRB: We already give celebrities tax breaks for ‘appearance cost’

Yesterday, Nora Danish was reported by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia as suggesting that artistes be given tax exemptions for the amount they spend to appear attractive in public. — Picture taken from Instagram/Nora Danish
Yesterday, Nora Danish was reported by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia as suggesting that artistes be given tax exemptions for the amount they spend to appear attractive in public. — Picture taken from Instagram/Nora Danish

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 8 ― The Internal Revenue Board (IRB) has clarified that celebrities can already deduct “appearance cost” when filing their taxes, following a suggestion by local actress Nora Danish that drew public ridicule yesterday.

According to an IRB spokesman, celebrities’ makeup and clothing rental expenditure as well as other costs such as management and advertising were considered deductible spending.

“For these expenditures, there is no specific allocation or amount fixed. It is up to the actual spending for each artiste to run her profession,” IRB public relations officer Masrum Maslim told Malay Mail Online’s sister publication ProjekMMO.

In addition, travel cost such as petrol, toll and parking can also claimed as tax deductions, he said.

“Every year, they have to send the B form. So they can claim operational expenditure every year,” Masrum explained, referring to the form to declare revenue from own business.

“They have to file all additional documents such as invoice [including makeup purchase], makeup artist and management payment vouchers, purchase receipts and others.”

Yesterday, Nora Danish was reported by Malay daily Utusan Malaysia as suggesting that artistes be given tax exemptions for the amount they spend to appear attractive in public.

The model-turned-entrepreneur had urged the IRB to consider her proposal, claiming that celebrities spend an exorbitant amount to maintain their looks.

She was mocked by the public after the news spread, however, as several entertainment blogs reported it as though she suggested that celebrities be exempted from paying taxes entirely.

Nora later claimed that her statement was manipulated, although she stood by her initial quotes in the interview.

Masrun added that the IRB considered such spending as “operational expenditure” for practitioners of arts.

“Actually, the term that we use is not tax exemption but the correct term should be operational expenditure as artistes and celebrities,” he said.

He also revealed that many artistes get taxed more than they should because they did not submit their tax forms or failed to provide complete revenue statement with supporting documents.

Nora’s remark came after celebrity Rozita Che Wan was barred from leaving the country to celebrate her two-year-old daughter’s birthday in London last week, due to tax arrears.

The IRB said last week that 132,501 Malaysians have been barred from going abroad as of September this year because of their failure to pay taxes.

According to the Immigration Department, unpaid taxes are the third most common reason for travel bans on Malaysians, which have also risen by over 50 per cent since last year.