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S’wakian seeks declaration he’s Malaysian taxpayer

 | November 15, 2016

Timber trader files papers in Malaysian court after losing case in Australia following imposition of RM162 million in taxes by Australian tax authorities.

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KUALA LUMPUR: A Sarawakian businessman is disputing a decision by the Australian government and tax office to impose taxes amounting to AUD49.7 million (RM162 million) on overseas earnings.

Hii Yii Ann, 56, is seeking a court declaration that he was domiciled in Malaysia from 2001 to 2009 and has been a local taxpayer.

He’s in the timber business in Papua New Guinea.

According to documents filed in court on July 22, Hii is seeking a declaration that the Australian Tax Office’s (ATO) decision on Dec 20, 2013, that he had abandoned his domicile was unilateral and invalid.

He wants a further declaration that ATO’s decision to amend his tax resident status from Malaysia to Australia, and the Australian Government’s decision to impose a tax assessment of AUD49.7 million on him for the years 2001 and 2009 were also null and void, according to the court documents.

Elsewhere, Hii claimed the Australian Government had breached the spirit and intent of the Dual Tax Agreement between Malaysia and Australia.

His lawyer Alvin John said his client had been filing tax returns in Malaysia between 2001 and 2009.

“However, Australia has a local tax law that states that anyone who stays in the country for six months and more, would have to pay ‘world tax’, on earnings,” he said. “This is on money they make outside the country.”

The lawyer added his client did not stay for more than six months in Brisbane.

“He was only visiting his six children and looking into investments during that period,” he said.

AOT should have contacted Hii before deciding he had abandoned his domicile, said John. “Australia has no rights to claim taxes from him. He’s a tax resident of Malaysia.”

John explained that Hii filed his case in Malaysia based on his tax residence status. “He wants the court here to decide his case,” he said. “He pays his taxes here.”

On Oct 23 last year, the Queensland Court dismissed Hii’s suit against the ATO.

It ruled that he was an Australian tax resident during the years 2001 to 2009 and had evaded taxes.

The Supreme Court allowed the ATO to “seize and sell” his Brisbane home and 330 hectares of land he partially owned.

The court made the order after Hii failed to pay AUD60 million in taxes to the ATO.


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