How To Maximise Your Income Tax Refund Malaysia 2019 (YA 2018)

Here are some tax reliefs you can claim when filing your income tax for YA 2018. Whether you’re single, married, or have children, there are tax reliefs to help maximise your tax refund.

No-one likes seeing a chunk of their hard-earned salary being deducted for tax purposes. If you’re earning above RM34,000 per annum, you’re not going to escape paying your taxes, but what you can do is make sure you get the maximum possible tax refund back. You can do this by identifying all the tax reliefs and tax rebates you are eligible for and claim for them when you file your taxes.

Claiming for tax relief allows you to reduce your chargeable income, but how does this affect your tax refund? As you know, the amount of tax you are charged is based on your amount of chargeable income. If your chargeable income amount is lesser, you will have to pay less tax - sometimes, you may even be charged with a lower tax rate. The Inland Revenue Board explicitly shows the income tax rates for the current assessment year (YA), while we've also shown a comparison between the tax rates for YA 2018 and YA 2017.

For example, let’s say your annual taxable income is RM40,000. Based on this amount, the income tax to pay the government is RM1,000 (at a rate of 8%). However, if you claimed a total of RM11,600 in tax relief, your chargeable income would reduce to RM28,400. This would enable you to drop down a tax bracket, lower your tax rate to 3%, and reduce the amount of taxes you are required to pay to RM402.

However, since you are already paying income tax at a higher bracket every month via the monthly tax deductions (MTD) for salaried employees, it is highly likely that you are paying more income tax than you should be. This is where the government has the obligation to refund you the tax you’ve overpaid – which is why the more tax reliefs you claim for, the bigger your tax refund will be. If you're confused by all these different terms, make sure to check our Income Tax Glossary to set yourself straight. 

Here are some examples of tax relief that you can claim to maximise your tax refund in 2019 (for YA 2018). 

(Update 12/3/2019: An earlier version of the infographic stated an incorrect value for Breastfeeding Equipment, and has since been rectified. The error is regretted.)

What You Need To Know About Income Tax Reliefs In Malaysia

Lifestyle

You can get up to RM2,500 worth of tax relief for lifestyle expenses under this category. Buying reading materials, a personal computer, smartphone or tablet, or sports equipment and gym memberships for yourself, spouse, or child allows you to claim for tax relief. You can also claim for your monthly home Internet subscription. Yes, you get tax relief for just paying your monthly Internet bills from Unifi, Streamyx, and so on. It’s also the only utility payment you can get a tax relief for, so make sure you don’t miss out on claiming for it.

Deferred annuity/private retirement scheme

If you’re putting some money aside for a mutual fund or unit trust, why not consider investing in a deferred annuity or private retirement scheme (PRS) instead? These come with a tax relief of up to RM3,000 per year. This way you can maximise your tax refund and contribute towards your long-term savings at one go.

Education
  • For yourself, you can claim for a Master’s, Doctorate, or a non-degree at Master’s or Doctorate level for acquiring law, accounting, Islamic financing, technical, vocational, industrial, scientific or technological skills or qualifications (CLP, ACCA, etc) for up to RM7,000.
  • For your child, the conditions for tax relief are that your child has to be 18 years and above, unmarried, and in full-time education for A-Level, certificates, matriculation, or other preparatory courses. You can claim a higher limit for those receiving further education in Malaysia for diploma level or higher (excluding matriculation/preparatory courses) or outside Malaysia for degree level and above.
SSPN

SSPN stands for the Skim Pendidikan Nasional, or the National Education Savings Scheme. It is a savings plan introduced by PTPTN to enable parents to invest for their children’s higher education and can be opened with Maybank, Bank Islam, Agrobank, Bank Rakyat, or RHB Bank. As long as your total deposit in the year 2018 is larger than your total withdrawal, you’re eligible for a tax relief of your net balance up to RM6,000.

Zakat/fitrah

Do take note that, this is not a tax relief, but a tax deduction. Tax rebates are not deducted from your chargeable income like a tax relief is, but from your final tax amount at the end. So, if your amount taxed after taking all your claimed tax reliefs into account is RM402, you can claim a tax rebate for zakat up to the actual amount expended or the maximum of tax charged.

Keep Your Receipts!

When claiming for any purchases, premiums, donations, or fees, it’s crucial that you have the receipts to back your claims up. It is your responsibility to keep them for the next 7 years from the year of filing. If you fail to produce these receipts and should you be audited by the Inland Revenue Board, you must pay a penalty – so don’t try to claim for anything unless you know you have the receipt.

Don’t Lose Out – Get Your Tax Money Back

From single individuals to those married or married with kids, there are definitely tax reliefs to help reduce your tax burden and maximise your tax refund. When you file your income tax this 2019, make sure to have a good hard look at your expenditure from the year before so you don’t miss out on any tax relief you can claim for. Poring over your finances from last year probably won’t be fun, but at least you’ll know you can get the highest tax refund back possible!

More on Malaysia income tax 2019

Find more income tax related content in our Income Tax page.

0 comments

Agree or disagree with this post? Questions? You also have your word!

  • Lai

    I am divorced and has 3 kids. Does it mean I can deduct up to rm10k for life style (rm2.5k x 4)?

    Reply
    • Suresh Mohan Krishnan

      Hi Ms. Lai, you can only deduct 2.5k maximum on lifestyle claim - which includes internet, gym membership and books and magazines. You can deduct 2k for each child under 18, but remember if your husband is also claiming this relief for your kids, then you can only claim 50% on this. (i.e: (3 kids x 2k) / 2 claimants = 3k each). You can also claim your childcare fees, up to 1k spent on an approved childcare center/kindergarten. Note that alimony received is tax exempt. Also thank you, Ringgitplus and Jacie for this really good write-up.

      Reply
      • Genny

        Under what condition child relief only can claim?

        Reply
      • AZMI

        No. For life style deduction, it has nothing to do with how many kids you have. Maximum you can claim for "life style" is rm2500 only per family (you can do combination receipt) But if you declared your tax separately from your spouse, you can also claim again provided you have other related receipt with you.

        Reply
        • RinggitPlus

          Hi, Lai

          You can claim the lifestyle tax relief for yourself and your children. However, you can only claim up to RM2,500 as stated by LHDN.

          Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

          Reply
        • Liu

          Hi, for those who work and get paid from foreign company which do not pay tax on behalf, what can she do?

          Reply
          • RinggitPlus

            Hi, Liu

            He or she still needs to declare their income regardless of whether they are working overseas or locally.

            Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

            Reply
          • Vernon

            Can we claim for both father and mother if they are healthy and working? As we are giving monthly amount to them...

            Reply
            • RinggitPlus

              Hi, Vernon

              As long you can prove that you are taking care of your parents, you can claim the parental care tax relief.

              Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

              Reply
            • Dan

              Hi! What's the exact salary amount where income tax will be deducted? I heard the numbers have changed. My gross salary is between 3000-3100 but income tax is not deducted, heard the minimum amount is around 3150 if im not mistaken. Pls clarify.

              Reply
              • Tony

                Hello Ringgit Plus!

                The lifestyle category is Rm2500 combined for self,spouse and child.

                Does it meant that house internet bills under my wife's name will be tax deductible for my income tax? Fyi, my wife is a homemaker and not claiming it.

                Thanks!

                Reply
                • RinggitPlus

                  Hi, Tony

                  Yes, you can claim it. Make sure you have the documentation for the tax relief.

                  Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                  Reply
                • Hasrul N.

                  Hi, starting from YA2019, the EPF & Life Insurance are now being split. Up to RM4,000 for EPF + RM3,000 for life insurance/takaful.

                  Reply
                  • Indy

                    Hi Team,
                    Separate or combined tax assessment is better for working parents. One at 8% and the other at 24%. TQ

                    Reply
                    • RinggitPlus

                      Hi, Indy

                      This part depends on your preference and financial commitment. If you want to compile your tax easily, then a combine declaration will be better. If you need more information, you head to LHDN.

                      Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                      Reply
                    • Winnie

                      Hi, I bought a unit of low cost flat in month October 2018. It's cost RM158K, it is my first house, do I need declaration it?

                      Reply
                      • RinggitPlus

                        Hi, Winnie

                        This part depends on what is the purpose of the property. If this is for rental income, then yes you should declare the property. If it is for personal use, then you don't have to declare it.

                        Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                        Reply
                      • LEONG

                        Both my parent is not longer around. Can l claim tax relief of rm1500 for my mother in low which i have given her rm500 every month

                        Reply
                        • RinggitPlus

                          Hi, Leong

                          no, you can't do that as it requires proof that indeed the person that you care for to be around.

                          Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                          Reply
                        • Kuldeep

                          Hello Ringgit Plus!
                          Under lifestyyle category can I claim for my monthly mobile phone with data plan?

                          Reply
                          • RinggitPlus

                            Hi, Kuldeep

                            It is hard to say as some telcos like Digi said that their mobile plans are not eligible for tax relief. It is in your best interest to contact LHDN for more information.

                            Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                            Reply
                          • hanis

                            Hi,

                            Just wondering, smartwatch can be claimed under lifestyle category.?

                            Reply
                          • Felicia Tan

                            Hi,
                            I would like to enquire about the parent limited RM1500 for father and RM1500 for mother which total income doesn't exceed RM24000 annually, the income here does it include dividend receives from shares? My husband's parents don't have any income other than interest from savings & fix deposit and dividend from shares, if this total to more than RM24000 annually, does it mean my husband cannot claim the RM1500 for his father and mother? Appreciate your advise, thanks.

                            Reply
                            • RinggitPlus

                              Hi, Felicia Tan

                              Based on what we know is that dividend is not taxable, so you can still claim the parental tax relief. However, we would advise you to contact LHDN on this matter.

                              Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                              Reply
                            • Liza Kuan

                              Hi,
                              I'm self-employed (not registered with SSM) and I do contribute to my EPF account. Does that mean that I am eligible for the EPF deduction (non-salary deduction) ? Thank you

                              Reply
                            • AAng

                              Hi, I enrolled gym membership and pay for my daughter but the fitness center said the receipt must issued to her name. Can I get tax relief for her monthly membership fees that I paid for?

                              Reply
                              • RinggitPlus

                                Hi, AAng

                                Yes, you can as the lifestyle tax relief extends to your spouse and children.

                                Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                Reply
                              • Adam

                                Hi,
                                For education relief, may I know what kind of course eligible for the relief? I've taken ecommerce course through internet, but not professional nor degree, can I claim for that?
                                Thanks

                                Reply
                                • Tan

                                  Hi, just want to find out if interest from savings and fd are taxable?

                                  Reply
                                  • Justin

                                    Hi, I have been working freelancer but not registered. Do I submit with e-BE form or e-B form?
                                    How does the claim works? (Eg. I fill up lifestyle claims with Max RM2500 for my internet bills as my name is the registered individual for the internet.)
                                    Do I get back RM2500 banked in to me in few weeks?

                                    Reply
                                    • RinggitPlus

                                      Hi, Justin

                                      Since your business is not registered, you should use the e-BE form. With regards to the tax refund, it depends on how fast you file and whether you are taxable.

                                      Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                      Reply
                                    • Cat

                                      Hi. I'm paying monthly installment for my house. Can that be deducted from my taxable income?

                                      Reply
                                      • Vaoger

                                        Hi,
                                        About the 4k husband/ wife /alimony payment... so i am married and am i eligible for that 4k worth of tax relief? if my wife is working too.

                                        Reply
                                      • Tak

                                        Hi, can I claim luxury (Oris) and sport (garmin fenix 5) watches under lifestyle?

                                        Reply
                                      • Josh

                                        Hi

                                        Reply
                                        • KC

                                          Referring to this: Purchase of sports equipment for any sports activity as defined under the Sports Development Act 1997 - is there a reference of a list of equipment purchased that are claimable? I bought a gym bench and dumb-bells. Want to make sure I put that in it is a claimable expenses.

                                          Reply
                                          • YH

                                            Hi, I would like to check with you on tax relief for parents. If I have 2 brothers, so do I still eligible to have deduction? I heard of many version out there so I am quite confuse. some tell me If my brother already deducts, then I am not eligible to deduct. Or, I need to call my brothers and discuss with them who should take the deduction.

                                            Second, about the childcare fee for kindergarten. It is restricted to RM1000 and only either husband or wife can claim. Let say the fee is RM3000, and I deduct Rm1000 and my wife also deduct Rm1000 (total not more than RM1000 per person), is it ok to do so?

                                            Third, regarding the self-medical expenses. what does it mean by serious diseases? There is no guideline saying how just consider serious. Complete medical examination is for the body check up only and not for your sickness with clinic receipt?

                                            Please advise my above 3 questions. Thank you.

                                            Reply
                                            • RinggitPlus

                                              Hi, YH

                                              1) Yes, you need to discuss with your sibling on the parental care expenses before you declare them

                                              2) No, only one parent can claim the kindergarten tax relief and the maximum is RM1,000. The ruling stated one per family not one per parent.

                                              3) “serious disease” includes acquired immunity deficiency syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, renal failure, leukaemia and other similar diseases.

                                              http://www.agc.gov.my/agcportal/uploads/files/Publications/LOM/EN/Act%2053.pdf

                                              Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                              Reply
                                            • sherwin

                                              hi good day i am sherwin a foreigner working here in malaysia, our hr advised me not to leave the country for 182 days to decrease my tax from 28% to local tax and to get also a refund from 6 months of paying 28%. but i read some articles that it's possible for me to leave the country as long as i don't exceed for 14 days. can you enlighten me about this issue thanks and best regards.

                                              Reply
                                            • Rachel

                                              Hi ,

                                              Would like to know about spouse relief , Can i claim spouse relief of RM4,000 because my husband retired in 2017.

                                              The type of assessment all this while was separate, possible to tick self whose spouse has no income for tax return 2018 ?

                                              Thanks ,

                                              Reply
                                              • RinggitPlus

                                                Hi, Rachel

                                                Yes, you can claim the RM4,000 for your spouse. You can also contact LHDN for more information.

                                                Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                                Reply
                                              • Teddy

                                                For newspaper claims, any receipt from newsagent will do?

                                                Reply
                                                • RinggitPlus

                                                  Hi, Teddy

                                                  You will need receipts from the newspaper company (usually for monthly/yearly subscription).

                                                  Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                                  Reply
                                                • Chai Xiu Sarn

                                                  Can personal computer / smartphone / tablet be claimed for yearly in the condition purchase being made by me every year?

                                                  Reply
                                                  • RinggitPlus

                                                    Hi, Chai Xiu Sarn

                                                    For laptops, you can only claim it once every three years. Additionally, you are only able to claim up to RM2,500 per year. So, it maybe hard to claim the total prize of the laptop.

                                                    Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                                    Reply
                                                  • Foo Ai Choo

                                                    Is interest on fixed deposits taxable ?

                                                    Reply
                                                  • May Lee

                                                    Hi. Would like to know whether the many charity/fun runs/walks that I participated in are considered tax deductible under lifestyle category?

                                                    Thanks...

                                                    Reply
                                                  • Dixon

                                                    Hi,

                                                    1) Regarding the tax relief for parents. Both my parents are not working and are above 60 years old. I have two other siblings. The maximum tax relief for each parent is RM1500. Does this mean that if I claim the full amount, then both my siblings would not be able to claim this? Or, we can split equally among ourselves and that means it will be RM500 for each of us? Kindly clarify, thanks.

                                                    2) Regarding the tax relief for life insurance. I am a bit confused on how this works. I purchased my life insurance in the middle of last year. Does this mean that I can claim the full tax relief of RM6000 as it's a single deduction for this year only, or that I'm supposed to claim tax relief only for the premiums that I have paid till Dec 2018? Please advise, thanks.

                                                    Reply
                                                    • RinggitPlus

                                                      HI, Dixon.

                                                      1) You might want to discuss this matter with your siblings and LHDN on who claims what with regards to the parental care relief.

                                                      2) With regards to the life insurance tax relief, the maximum you can claim is RM6,000. So, you can only claim as much you have paid for the premium.

                                                      Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                                      Reply
                                                    • Sofia

                                                      1) If you are a member of a sports club like the royal selangor club does that count as a gymnasium as they have a gym there?
                                                      2) Do we calculate our bills including the gst for the tax relief for internet?

                                                      Reply
                                                      • RinggitPlus

                                                        Hi, Sofia

                                                        1) Yes, you can claim it as long as you can provide receipts.
                                                        2) No, you should exclude GST out of your internet bill.

                                                        Thanks for the question and we hope this helps.

                                                        Reply
                                                      • Irese

                                                        Hi!
                                                        1) For monthly internet bill total combined of Unifi internet + Unifi TV + GST, Besides the GST, do we calculate bills including Unifi internet + Unifi TV as total for the tax relief?
                                                        2) The total for tax relief should be total payment made in 2018 or total bill in 2018? (as Dec bill amount paid in Jan of the next year)
                                                        Thank you.

                                                        Reply
                                                        • carol

                                                          Hi I wanted to ask for lifestyle tax relief on the internet deduction can we actually include the phone internet bills for either Celcom/maxis/other telco provider?

                                                          Reply
                                                          • carol

                                                            Im a first timer here, specifically under tax relief, what amount do we put on self and dependent? Is it medical expenses?

                                                            Reply
                                                            • Sarah tan

                                                              Hi,
                                                              i am a resident of malaysia but my family lives overseas. can i claim as tax relief life and medical insurance policies bought outside malaysia for my family members and I?

                                                              Reply
                                                              • Milly

                                                                Hi. Am I allowed to claim tax relief for hand phone/smart phone under lifestyle expenses every year or is it only once in 3 years?

                                                                Reply
                                                                • Mei

                                                                  Hi, me & my spouse are having separate e filing, can we both claim for child relief? we have 1 son.. is either one of us to claim? or 50% ?

                                                                  Reply
                                                                  • Kewbert Kew

                                                                    Hi, I bought a smartphone from TechBug through online purchase. Is this eligible for income tax relief under lifestyle segment?

                                                                    Reply