Shafee laments on draconian law used to recover tax arrears

Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyer today argued against the Inland Revenue Board’s (IRB) attempt to obtain a summary judgment in its RM1.69 billion tax arrears suit against the former prime minister without going through a full trial. The New Straits Times reports:


Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah said the application by the IRB to get a summary judgment effectively removes judicial power from the sitting judge to hear evidence from both parties.

Summary judgment is a judgment entered by a court for one party and against another party without a full trial.

Shafee said the plaintiff could oppressively move against Najib once the court allowed the application even though his client did not owe even a single sen to the board.

“The plaintiff is depriving the court from looking at the merits of the case when they applied for a summary judgment through Order 14 of the Rules of Court 2012.

“On top of that, they also brought the suit before the court by invoking Section 106 (3) of the Income Tax Act 1967 (Act 53), which touched on recovery by suit.

“The section states that the court shall not entertain any plea that the amount of tax sought to be recovered is excessive, incorrectly assessed, under appeal or incorrectly increased.

“Order 14 is a draconian law and Section 106 (3) raised a monster out of this law,” he said during his submission before High Court Judge Datuk Ahmad Bache.

Shafee also took a swipe at IRB for using nice words such as ‘scheme of recovery’ and so on to justify their action.

“They sue us but we cannot fight this case and this is an intrusion to the judiciary power,” he said.

Meanwhile, deputy revenue solicitor Abu Tariq Jamaluddin said all Malaysians must pay their taxes once they received a notice from Inland Revenue Board (IRB), including the former prime minister.

He said it was unfair for other taxpayers who made their payment on time if Najib, who is named as the defendant in this suit is exempted.

“We gave him (Najib) two opportunities to reply to IRB’s notice but he never responded to it.

“We filed the suit after there was no request for payment from Najib,” he said, adding that Najib could also argue on the merits of the tax-reassessment with the Special Commissioner of Income Tax (SCIT) if the court allowed the summary judgment application.

The court then said it would take at least a month to come to a decision and would write to both parties a week before the date of the decision.

Najib is seeking to challenge the tax arrears suit by the IRB to recover RM1.69 billion in additional tax assessments from him for the years 2011 to 2017.

On Feb 28, Ahmad Bache refused Najib a stay of the proceedings on grounds that there were no special circumstances which warranted a postponement of the case.

The stay application was filed by Najib on Aug 8, last year, pending his appeal for a reassessment of the amount to IRB.

In an affidavit in support of the summary judgement application, IRB Monitoring Unit assistant director Hisyamuddin Mohd Hassan affirmed that the tax assessment which is due must be paid upon service of the assessment notices.

On June 25, last year, the IRB on behalf of the government, filed a suit seeking for Najib to pay RM1.69 billion that he allegedly owes the tax body.

According to the notice, the tax assessments were RM11,173,374.12, RM320,929,932.31, RM891,573,465.46, RM119,144,655.51, RM16,879,500.03, RM643,445.21 and RM346,471.41 respectively from the years 2011 to 2017.

The government claimed that it had the right to recoup the income tax that was still owed, along with the additional increases in line with Section 103 of the Income Tax Act 1967 which Najib had yet to pay.