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  • Koh Dipendra Jeremiah Law

Tourism Tax on Online Digital Accommodation Booking Platforms

Online digital accommodation booking platforms such as Airbnb, Agoda and Booking.com are now the common go-to for tourists who are looking into accommodations for their trips. Gone are the days where tourist would call up multiple hotels or accommodation providers separately to check on their rates and make bookings.


Since the inception of the Malaysian Tourism Tax Act 2017 (“the Act”), tourists are required to pay tourism tax for their overnight stay to the operators of accommodation premises [1]. This was the traditional position whereby tourists will pay the accommodation fee and the tourism tax directly to the operators of accommodation premises for their overnight stay. The Act did not envisage tourism tax chargeable on bookings and payments for accommodation through online digital platforms.


Pursuant to the Tourism Tax (Amendment) Act 2021 (“2021 Amendment Act”), any digital platform service provider [2] (“service provider”) who provides any service relating to online booking accommodation premises [3] is obligated to collect tourism tax (RM10.00 per room per night effectively from 1 July 2021 [4]) from tourists who booked their accommodation through the digital platform operated by the service provider, and the service provider is now required to furnish tourism tax returns to the Director General of Customs and Excise (“DG Customs”) and make corresponding payment of tourism tax to the DG Customs. To avoid double taxation, it is worth noting that tourists who have paid tourism tax to the service provider will not be liable to pay the same amount of tax to the operator of the accommodation premises.


A service provider is now required to apply to the DG Customs to be registered under the Act. Such application shall be made within 30 days from the date the service provider provides its services to its customers in relation to any booking of accommodation premises located in Malaysia. Any existing service provider who is providing such services prior to the effective date of the 2021 Amendment Act, shall not later than 3 months prior to the effective date of the 2021 Amendment Act, apply to the Director General to be registered. The abovementioned application shall be made in the prescribed “Form TTx-01A” under the Tourism Tax (Digital Platform Service Provider) Regulations 2021 [5] and submitted electronically.


Any service provider who failed to comply with the registration requirements is liable to a fine not exceeding RM30,000.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both.


As online digital platforms for booking of accommodation are prevalent in this day and age, the amendment introduced by the 2021 Amendment Act is important to ensure equal tax treatment between bookings for accommodation directly with the operators of the accommodation premises and bookings through online digital platforms.


References:

  1. Accommodation premises means building, including hostels, hotels, inns, boarding-houses, rest houses, lodging houses, and other structures whether permanent or temporary, held out by the proprietor, owner or manager, either wholly or partly, as offering lodging or sleeping accommodation to tourists for hire or any other form of reward, whether or not food or drink is also offered.

  2. Digital platform service provider means any person who provides service relating to online booking accommodation premises to a tourist whether such person is in Malaysia or outside Malaysia.

  3. Service relating to online booking accommodation premises means any online service relating to the booking of accommodation premises that is delivered automatically over the internet or any other electronic network.

  4. Tourism Tax (Rate Of Digital Platform Service Provider Tax) Order 2021 (PU(A) 113/2021).

  5. PU(A) 153/2021.