On Facebook, Najib claims not ordered by court to pay RM1.69b taxes, insists IRB merely given nod to pursue tax claim

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court July 17, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Najib Razak is pictured at the Kuala Lumpur High Court July 17, 2020. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak has claimed that the High Court in Kuala Lumpur’s decision today did not mean he was ordered to pay RM1.69 billion in taxes to the government.

Najib, who is a former prime minister and former finance minister, instead argued that the High Court’s decision was a granting of a “summary judgment” to the Internal Revenue Board (IRB) to continue its claim for alleged unpaid taxes amounting to more than RM1.69 billion.

Najib cited a news report as explaining that a summary judgment was when the court makes a decision without a full trial, such as without having to hear witness statements.

The amount being claimed by the IRB from Najib is RM1,692,872,924.93 or close to RM1.7 billion, with the amount covering both the penalties and the initial RM1,465,690,844 for the assessment years of 2011 to 2017.

Najib had made his assertions in a post on his official Facebook page shortly after the High Court’s decision.

In his Facebook post, Najib alleged that the government’s claim of nearly RM1.7 billion in taxes from him was an abuse of power by the previous Pakatan Harapan administration.

Najib insisted that the RM1.69 billion was imposed on both a sum of RM2.6 billion which he claimed to have returned to its sender after four months, as well as on a RM632 million sum which he claimed to purportedly be a “foreign donation” from Saudi Arabia which he claimed should not be taxable.

Najib claimed that the “truth” in his case would be shown when his appeal over the RM1.69 billion tax claim reaches the Special Commissioners of Income Tax’s office.

In explaining what he understood regarding the High Court’s decision today, Najib said that the court had ruled that he should pursue his appeal at the Special Commissioners of Income Tax.

Among other things, Najib also said the court had noted that it was not within its powers under the law to entertain any plea over the amount of the tax sought to be recovered, including over claims that the tax sought is excessive, incorrectly assessed or under appeal.

Background of the case and what the court said

Based on the facts of the case, Najib had received a March 2019 notice from the government seeking payment of over RM1.4 billion of allegedly unpaid taxes from him for the years 2011 to 2017, with the amount eventually increasing twice to RM1.69 billion after penalties were imposed on his failure to pay within the required time period.

Najib had in April 2019 filed an appeal to the Special Commissioners of Income Tax.

The High Court today noted that Najib had made various claims to defend himself such as that a substantial part of the income being taxed were donations from an Arab donor with some of the donations purportedly returned, and that Najib had claimed that donations are not taxable as they are not income.

But the High Court pointed out that Najib’s defence and claims of the purported donations are questions of facts that should be heard and decided by the Special Commissioners of Income Tax instead.

Ruling that since there are no triable issues to warrant a full trial with matters in this case to be heard by the Special Commissioners of Income Tax instead, the High Court said it had no alternative but to grant a summary judgment in favour of the Inland Revenue Board’s claim to recover RM1.69 billion from Najib.

Among other things, the High Court said Najib should first pursue his appeal at the Special Commissioners of Income Tax, before further appealing to the High Court if required.

The High Court today also ordered Najib to pay RM15,000 in legal costs for the case.

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