MAY 15 — My not-small and not-ginormous Twitter (no, I still refuse to call it X) following has an unusual history: it started from my following along with the national Budget announcement and tweeting with the hashtag #LOLBudget.

That stopped the year I could no longer make jokes about the Budget because all I felt was rage.

In funny life happenings, a civet cat got loose in the house, knocking over various things and defecating on top of a cabinet.

Advertisement

The s******g on Cabinet thing sounds similar to something I do whenever we get a new or recycled government but that's another story.

Anyhow I realised I needed to update my personal filing system and many of my document holders, including the one for my tax receipts, were quite literally falling apart.

Pro-tip: Don't get manila card folders, kids, they don't last very long.

Advertisement

General view of the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia’s building located at Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur. From next year's tax filing onwards, dental examinations and routine maintenance such as scaling as well as extractions will come under tax relief, for up to RM1,000. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
General view of the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia’s building located at Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur. From next year's tax filing onwards, dental examinations and routine maintenance such as scaling as well as extractions will come under tax relief, for up to RM1,000. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

That's when I decided to get up-to-date on the latest in tax reliefs and found out that dental exams are now claimable. So I had no more reason to put off going to the dentist (my teeth are fine, thanks).

From next year's tax filing onwards, dental examinations and routine maintenance such as scaling as well as extractions will come under tax relief, for up to RM1,000.

Note that what is considered non-routine dental work such as root canals, crowns and dentures are not covered, which I think is a shame as trying to save teeth shouldn't be considered unnecessary procedures.

The expanded sports equipment fund allows claims for up to RM1,000 on gym memberships, sport equipment for sports listed under the Sports Development (Amendment of First Schedule) that came into effect on March 10, 2023.

You can see the list of 103 claimable sports here.

However, people get confused about what is considered sports equipment.

While the sports minister said that running shoes are also claimable, under LHDN running shoes are considered “attire” and thus not eligible for claims.

Considering that sports competitions have strict attire rules, it also seems like an oversight to not consider sports attire under tax relief.

I can't, for instance, swim in a T-shirt and shorts for a swimming competition for reasons that include safety and even going for swimming lessons, pool rules will require proper swimming attire.

Perhaps the taxmen see that Kenyan marathon runners won races barefoot so proper running shoes aren't an absolute must?

Again, I do not see the logic.

Still on the monetary side, high-end sports attire is expensive though I myself prefer shopping at discount stores of the wonderful French invention called Decathlon.

Then there's also the reality that athletes do insist that running shoes do make a difference, to the point there are Nike shoes banned for giving too much of an edge in competition.

Yet all these tax reliefs don't mean much to people for whom the new category that allows for relief for not just sports equipment, but gym membership as well as sports training combined for up to RM1,000 seems frivolous.

As a child I would have liked to have joined a sports club but my parents were unable to afford the monthly fees or uniforms involved.

The expenses would have made a big dent in our food bill and as my dad didn't even earn enough to be paying a lot of taxes in the first place, these tax reliefs would maybe appeal more to the kind of parent with enough disposable income or who have fewer children.

As an individual though, the tax relief doesn't even cover the cost of a gym membership, not to mention the expense of commuting to one.

I recently picked up skateboarding and quad skating, which meant buying safety gear.

Seeing how a helmet and kneepads etc would be considered attire, again, it doesn't make sense to me that I can't claim relief for things that would help ensure I don't get injured.

As it is, I already find it depressing to see people on social media not wearing safety gear because it's less comfortable and not as aesthetic for the 'Gram.

The allocation for vaccines and medical check-ups is also perhaps again more geared towards people with money.

A flu vaccine is not cheap and I find it annoying that I have to be a senior citizen before I can qualify for a shingles jab.

Middle-aged people get shingles too and having witnessed how painful it is, I would think they would make it accessible to the general population.

I do think that while these tax reliefs are nice and all, the reality is we are still shutting out people with lower incomes or lack of access.

Still, as inflation speeds along like Eliud Kipchoge while salaries continue to remain stagnant thanks to the efforts of the MEF, every ringgit counts so maybe I will get that pair of rollerblades.

If the government is willing to partially sponsor my falling down a lot in a bid to stay active in a world that makes staying in bed with my phone a more attractive option, who am I to say no?

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.