Designing Malaysia’s Tax Structure to Achieve Higher Income Country

Chung Tin Fah

Abstract


After four decades of rapid, inclusive growth averaging 6.4% pa since 1970, due to successful transformation of the economy from agriculture to a modern and open economy, Malaysia needs to embark on painstaking reforms to launch its trajectory to a higher growth path. Malaysia has a lower tax burden when compared to most G8 and BRIC economies. It collects about 16.9% of GDP in tax revenues, compared with the OECD average of 34.3% in 2016 (OECD, 2015). Among the urgent reforms are taxes which need a restructuring from direct and commodity taxes with overdependence on oil and gas to a more diversified tax base. Its tax dependence on the oil and gas sectors for revenue reached a 41% high of GDP in 2009, before settling to 14% with the introduction of GST/SST. The long-run elasticity of tax burden is -0.25, which implies that GDP growth will be reduced by 0.25% for every 1% increase in tax burden, compared with -0.27 for OECD countries (Arnold, 2012). In general, taxes are negatively correlated with economic growth, even after taking into account the different types of taxes. The structure of taxation showed that GST is most sensitive to economic growth and has the highest impact. Among taxes, GST, PIT and CIT are negatively correlated to growth whereby for every 1% increase in taxes, economic growth will be reduced by 0.17%, 0.06% and 0.06% respectively. PROTAX and OTHTAX are positively related to GDP growth. Tax reforms are needed to broaden the overall tax base, resize the sources to uncover additional resources to fund needed programs for inclusive growth. Over the medium time-span, it is important that the government focus on strengthening its tax collection administration to cut off leakage and in reducing the number of tax exempt items, inevitably looking into indirect taxes and a broader tax base to contribute to a progressive income tax system in its tax reform agenda.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijafr.v9i2.14722

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