Malaysia has a wide variety of incentives covering the major industry sectors. Tax incentives can be granted through income exemption or by way of allowances. Where incentives are given by way of allowances, any unutilised allowances may be carried forward indefinitely to be utilised against future statutory income, except for certain incentives, such as reinvestment allowance and investment allowance for approved service projects, where a seven-year limitation applies.
In compliance with the Forum on Harmful Tax Practices (FHTP) criteria under the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Action 5 (Countering Harmful Tax Practices More Effectively, Taking into Account Transparency and Substance), Malaysia has amended the legislation in relation to the tax incentives to:
- remove ring-fencing features
- exclude IP income from the incentives, and
- stipulate the substantial activities requirements.
The following are the major types of incentives available in Malaysia.
Pioneer status (PS) and investment tax allowance (ITA)
Companies in the manufacturing, agricultural, and hotel and tourism sectors, or any other industrial or commercial sector, that participate in a promoted activity or produce a promoted product may be eligible for either PS or ITA.
PS is given by way of exemption from CIT on 70% of the statutory income for five years and the remaining 30% is taxed at the prevailing CIT rate. ITA is granted on 60% qualifying capital expenditure incurred for a period of five years and is utilised against 70% of the statutory income, while the 30% balance is taxed at the prevailing CIT rate.
A company that intends to undertake reinvestment before expiration of its PS or ITA status may opt for reinvestment allowance, provided it surrenders its PS or ITA status.
The PS and ITA incentives are enhanced for the following types of projects:
|Qualifying industry||Pioneer status||Investment tax allowance|
|Incentive||TRP (1)||Incentive||TRP (1)|
|Projects of national and strategic importance involving heavy capital investment and high technology.||100% of SI (2)||5 + 5||100% QCE (3) against 100% SI||5|
|High-technology companies engaged in areas of new and emerging technologies.||100% of SI||5||60% QCE against 100% SI||5|
|Companies manufacturing specialised machinery and equipment.||100% of SI||10||100% QCE against 100% SI||5|
|Companies providing technical and vocational training, and private higher education institutions providing qualifying vocational / science courses.||-||-||100% QCE against 70% SI||10|
|New companies investing and existing companies reinvesting in utilising oil palm biomass to produce value-added products.||100% of SI||10||100% QCE against 100% SI||5|
|Small scale companies (defined) that meet with specified conditions.||100% of SI||5||60% QCE against 100% SI||5|
- Tax relief period (in terms of years).
- Statutory income.
- Qualifying capital expenditure.
Special incentive schemes
A resident company in operation for not less than 36 months that incurs capital expenditure to expand, modernise, automate, or diversify its existing manufacturing business or approved agricultural project is entitled to reinvestment allowance as follows:
- The allowance is given for 15 years from the first year of claim.
- The allowance is computed at 60% of QCE incurred and can be utilised against 70% of statutory income.
- The 70% restriction does not apply to projects that have achieved the level of productivity as prescribed by the Minister of Finance.
- The allowance will be withdrawn if the asset for which the allowance is granted is disposed of within five years.
A special reinvestment allowance of 60% of QCE will be given for years of assessment 2020 to 2024 for companies that have exhausted their existing 15-year reinvestment allowance period and special reinvestment allowance granted for years of assessment 2016 to 2018.
Incentives for relocating to Malaysia
The following incentives are given to encourage investment and relocation of manufacturing or services operations into Malaysia:
- 0% tax rate for 10 or 15 years for new companies that invest a minimum of MYR 300 million or MYR 500 million, respectively, in the manufacturing sector in Malaysia.
- ITA of 100% for five years for existing companies in Malaysia to relocate their overseas manufacturing facility for a new business segment to Malaysia with a minimum investment of MYR 300 million.
- 0% to 10% tax rate for up to ten years for new companies that relocate their services facility or establish new services in Malaysia.
- 10% tax rate for up to ten years for existing companies in Malaysia that undertake services activities for a new business segment in Malaysia.
Applications must be received by 31 December 2022.
Approved service projects
A resident company undertaking a project approved by the Minister of Finance in the transportation, communications, utilities, and services subsectors may enjoy the following incentives:
- Investment allowance of 60% of QCE incurred within five years to be utilised against 70% of statutory income, or income tax exemption of 70% of statutory income for a period of five years.
- Buildings used solely for the purposes of such projects qualify for an industrial building allowance.
A resident company engaged in manufacturing or agriculture that exports manufactured products, agricultural produce, or services is entitled to allowances between 10% and 100% of value of increased exports (subject to satisfying prescribed conditions), which is deductible at up to 70% of statutory income.
A principal hub is a locally incorporated company that uses Malaysia as a base for conducting its regional and global businesses and operations through management, control, and support of key functions, such as management of risk, strategic decisions, finance, and human resources. A principal hub will enjoy a CIT at effective tax rates of 0% or 5% (new companies) of statutory income for a period of 5 + 5 years or 10% of statutory income (existing companies) for 5 years, subject to conditions being met (for applications by 31 December 2022).
Other non-fiscal incentives available include:
- No equity/ownership conditions.
- Foreign exchange administration flexibilities and approval of expatriate positions based on stated policies.
- Customs duty exemption for raw materials, components, or finished products brought into free zones, licensed and bonded warehouses for production or repackaging, cargo consolidation, and integration before distribution to its final customers for goods-based companies.
Global Trading Centre
A concessionary tax rate of 10% for five years (renewable for another five years) will be given to a newly incorporated resident company in Malaysia that uses Malaysia as its international trading base for undertaking strategic sourcing, procurement, and distribution of raw materials, components, and finished products to its related and unrelated companies in Malaysia and abroad (for applications by 31 December 2022).
International trading company
International trading companies are exempted on income equivalent to 20% of increased export value to be set off against a maximum of 70% of statutory income, for a period of five years. To qualify for the incentive, the company must meet the following three conditions:
- Incorporated in Malaysia, with 60% Malaysian ownership.
- Achieve minimum annual sales of MYR 10 million, of which not more than 20% of its annual sales may be derived from the trading of commodities.
- Use local services (banking, finance, and insurance) and infrastructure (local ports and airports) in its operations.
Financial services sector
Islamic fund management
Full income tax exemption is available on statutory income on management fees received by resident fund management companies for managing funds of foreign and local investors established under Syariah principles (until year of assessment 2023). Such funds must be approved by the Securities Commission.
Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) (formerly known as Kuala Lumpur International Financial District)
The TRX is an integrated property development comprising office towers for finance and banking, residences, and retail spaces in Kuala Lumpur. To accelerate the development of the TRX, the following incentives have been given:
- Income tax exemption of 70% of statutory income from the disposal of any building or rights over a building, or part thereof, for five years up to year of assessment 2025, for property developers in TRX.
- Income tax exemption of 70% of statutory income from the rental of any building, or part thereof, for five years up to year of assessment 2027, for property developers in TRX.
- Additional 50% tax deduction of rental payment incurred by TRX Marquee status companies for buildings used for business in TRX.
- 10% industrial building allowance for TRX Marquee status companies for qualifying building expenditure that is incurred up to 31 December 2025.
- Accelerated capital allowance incentive for renovation costs incurred by TRX Marquee status companies up to 31 December 2025.
- Single deduction for prescribed relocation costs incurred by TRX Marquee status companies for relocation that takes place not later than 31 December 2025.
Real estate investment trusts (REIT)/Property trust fund (PTF)
REIT/PTFs are vehicles that mobilise funds from unit holders comprising individuals and companies for investments in the property sector and related assets. REIT/PTFs are exempted from tax on all income, provided that at least 90% of their total income is distributed to unit holders. This exemption only applies to REIT/PTFs that are listed on the Bursa Malaysia. If the 90% distribution condition is not complied with, all income will be taxed at the prevailing income tax rate at the REIT/PTF level and tax credit will be claimed by the unit holders on distributions received from the REIT/PTF.
Unit holders are taxed as follows:
|Unit holders||WHT rate|
|Individuals (whether resident or non-resident), body of persons, or other unincorporated persons||10% (until year of assessment 2025)|
|Resident company||None (income to be included in annual tax return)|
|Foreign institutional investor (pension fund, collective investment scheme, or other person approved by the Minister of Finance), and other unit holders not falling in the above-mentioned categories.||10% (until year of assessment 2025)|
Other incentives available are:
- RPGT and stamp duty exemptions on disposal/transfer of real property to an REIT/PTF.
- Tax deduction given for consultancy, legal, and valuation service fees incurred on the establishment of an REIT.
Venture capital company (VCC)
A VCC investing in a venture company (VC), which is not the VCC’s related company at the point of first investment, will be given a deduction on the value of investment made in a VC until 31 December 2026. Where the deduction is not claimed, the VCC is eligible for the following income tax exemption on income from all sources, other than interest income from savings or fixed deposits, and profits from Syariah-based deposits:
||Five years of assessment|
The following incentives are provided for petroleum operations:
- Accelerated capital allowance on QCE incurred from year of assessment 2010 to 2024 for petroleum operations in marginal fields.
- Investment allowance of 60% of qualifying capital expenditure to be utilised against 70% statutory income for a period of ten years.
- Exemption for a portion of chargeable income from marginal fields resulting in a reduction of the effective tax rate from 38% to 25% for petroleum operations in marginal fields.
Special economic regions
The following special economic regions were launched as part of the Malaysian government’s plan for regional growth and development:
|Iskandar Malaysia (formerly known as Iskandar Development Region [IDR]): www.iskandarmalaysia.com.my||Southern Johor|
|Northern Corridor Economic Region: www.ncer.com.my||States of Perlis, Kedah, Penang, and northern Perak|
|East Coast Economic Region: www.ecerdc.com.my||States of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, and district of Mersing in Johor|
|Sabah Development Corridor: www.sedia.com.my||Western, central, and eastern regions of Sabah|
|Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy: www.recoda.gov.my||Central Sarawak|
Special incentives, on top of the existing incentives given by the Malaysian government, will be customised for the purpose of each economic region. At present, special legislation has been enacted only in respect of Iskandar Malaysia (IM) and East Coast Economic Region (ECER) and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).
Income tax exemption on rental or disposal of buildings in designated nodes (until year of assessment 2020).
Income tax exemption on statutory income from the provision of management, supervisory, and marketing services to an approved developer (until year of assessment 2020).
Non-resident service provider
Income tax and WHT exemptions on income from technical fees or royalties received from IDR-status companies.
Individuals working in IDR
A qualified knowledge worker is taxed at the rate of 15% on chargeable income from employment with a designated company engaged in a qualified activity (e.g. green technology, educational services, healthcare services, creative industries, financial advisory and consulting services, logistics services, tourism) in that specified region. Employment must have commenced between 24 October 2009 and 31 December 2020.
It is proposed that these incentives, which expired on 31 December 2020, be extended until 2022, with details to be announced later.
East Coast Economic Region
|Qualifying person undertaking qualifying activity||
Income tax exemption on statutory income for ten years or income tax exemption equivalent to 100% of QCE incurred for 5 years (applications received by 31 December 2022).
Stamp duty exemption on instruments of transfer of real property, or lease of land, or building used for the purpose of carrying on a qualifying activity (executed on or after 13 June 2008 but not later than 31 December 2022).
|Qualifying person undertaking special qualifying activity||
Income tax exemption at a rate of 70% to 100%, for a period as determined by the Minister (applications received by 31 December 2022).
Income tax exemption equivalent to a rate of 60% to 100% of QCE incurred to be utilised against 100% of statutory income and within a period as determined by the Minister (applications received by 31 December 2022).
|Approved developer undertaking development in industrial park or free zone||Income tax exemption for ten years in respect of income derived from:
|Approved park manager||Income tax exemption on statutory income for ten years, from the provision of park management services in the industrial park or free zones (applications received by 31 December 2022).|
|Approved development manager||Income tax exemption on statutory income for ten years from the provision of management, supervisory, or marketing services relating to the development of an industrial park or free zone (applications received by 31 December 2022).|
|Investor investing in related company||A deduction equivalent to the value of investment made into a related company carrying out qualifying activity or special qualifying activity (applications received by 31 December 2022).|
|Qualifying person who sponsors a hallmark event||A deduction for an amount not exceeding MYR 1 million per year of assessment in respect of cash contribution or contribution in kind for a hallmark event carried on in ECER from 13 June 2008 to 31 December 2022 (applications received by 31 December 2022).|
Sabah Development Corridor (SDC)
The following incentives are available for qualifying companies operating in the SDC (applications by 31 December 2022):
- 100% income tax exemption for five years of assessment on statutory income in respect of specified qualifying activities in the shipping and creative sectors.
- 100% income tax exemption for ten years of assessment on statutory income in respect of specified qualifying activities in the sectors of hotel and resort, manufacturing, education, and marine.
- Income tax exemption equivalent to 100% of QCE incurred that can be offset against 100% statutory income for five years in respect of specified qualifying activities in the shipping, creative, hotel and resort, manufacturing, education, and marine sectors.
- Income tax exemption equivalent to 100% of QCE incurred that can be offset against 100% statutory income for ten years in respect of specified qualifying activities in the halal sector.
Information and communication technology (ICT)
MSC Malaysia is Malaysia’s initiative for the global information technology (IT) industry and is designed to be the research and development (R&D) centre for industries based on IT. It is an ICT hub equipped with high-capacity global telecommunications and logistics networks. MSC Malaysia is also supported by secure cyber laws, strategic policies, and a range of financial and non-financial incentives for investors. It is managed by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), a ‘one-stop shop’ that acts as the approving authority for companies applying for MSC Malaysia status.
MSC Malaysia status is awarded to both local and foreign companies that develop or use multimedia technologies to produce or enhance their products and services as well as for process development. MSC Malaysia companies are eligible for incentives, which include the following:
- Income tax exemption (for five years and extendable by five years) on statutory income (or value-added income) derived from services provided in relation to core income generating activities for MSC Malaysia. Intellectual property income (as defined) is excluded from the incentive.
- Unrestricted employment of local and foreign knowledge workers.
- Freedom to source funds globally for investments.
- Protection of intellectual property and cyber laws.
- No censorship of the Internet.
- Globally competitive telecommunication tariffs.
Green technology projects
Companies that undertake any of the following green technology projects will be eligible for an ITA of 100% of QCE against 70% statutory income for QCE incurred for three years (applications to be received by 31 December 2023):
- Renewable energy.
- Energy efficiency.
- Green building.
- Green data centre.
- Integrated waste management.
Green technology services
Companies that provide services, such as advisory, design, feasibility study, testing, and commissioning, in the following areas will be eligible for income tax exemption of 70% of statutory income for three years (applications to be received by 31 December 2023):
- Renewable energy.
- Energy efficiency.
- Electric vehicle.
- Green building.
- Green data centre.
- Green certification and verification.
- Green township.
- Integrated waste management.
Companies engaged in solar leasing are eligible for income tax exemption of 70% of statutory income for five or ten years based on the energy production capacity (applications to be received by 31 December 2023).
Green technology assets
Companies that purchase green technology assets listed on the MyHijau directory will be eligible for an ITA of 100% of QCE incurred from 25 October 2013 to 31 December 2023, to be set off against 70% of statutory income (applications to be received by 31 December 2023).
Companies undertaking biotechnology activity with approved bionexus status from Malaysian Bioecomony Development Corporation Sdn Bhd will be eligible for the following incentives:
- 70% income tax exemption on statutory income for ten years from the first year in which the company derives statutory income or income tax exemption equivalent to a rate of 100% on QCE incurred for a period of five years to be utilised against 70% of statutory income.
- Concessionary tax rate of 20% on statutory income from qualifying activities for ten years upon expiry of the original tax-exempt period.
- Accelerated industrial building allowance (over ten years) for buildings used solely for the purpose of its new business or expansion project.
- Exemption of import duty and sales tax on import of raw materials and machinery.
Research and development (R&D)
Contract R&D company
Companies that provide R&D services to third parties are eligible for:
- PS of 100% of statutory income for five years (extendable by five years), or
- ITA of 100% of QCE incurred within a period of ten (extendable by ten years) to be utilised against 70% of statutory income.
ITA of 100% of QCE for a period of ten years (extendable by ten years) to be utilised against 70% of statutory income.
Companies undertaking in-house R&D projects are eligible for ITA at the rate of 50% of QCE incurred within a period of ten years (extendable by ten years) to be utilised against 70% of statutory income.
Commercialisation of resource-based R&D findings
A company that invests for the sole purpose of financing a project on commercialisation of resource-based R&D findings (which is wholly owned by a public research institute or public or private institute of higher learning in Malaysia) is given a deduction equivalent to the value of that investment.
The subsidiary undertaking the commercialisation of R&D findings is granted 100% tax exemption on statutory income for ten years.
Intellectual property (IP) development
Companies that own the rights of qualifying IP are eligible for full tax exemption, for a period up to ten years, on the royalty and licensing fees derived from the IP developed in Malaysia (applications to be received by 31 December 2022).
Shipbuilding and repairing (SBSR)
The following incentives are available for SBSR (applications to be received by 31 December 2022):
- Tax exemption of 70% of statutory income for five years, or ITA of 60% of QCE incurred within five years to be set off against 70% statutory income, for new companies.
- ITA of 60% of QCE incurred within five years to be set off against 70% statutory income for existing companies that have not enjoyed the SBSR incentive.
Incentives for Mines Wellness City (MWC)
The following incentives are available for MWC:
||Applications received by 31 December 2026.|
|Development manager||PS of 100% exemption on statutory income from management, consultancy, supervisory, or marketing services to MWC developer in MWC from the first year of assessment statutory income is derived until year of assessment 2023.||Applications received on or after 1 January 2013.|
1 and 2: Applications received on or after 1 January 2013.
3: Instruments executed from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2023.
Capital allowance for increased automation
Manufacturing companies that have been engaged in manufacturing activities for at least 36 months are eligible for the following incentives, where they have incurred expenditure in more technologically advanced automation equipment used directly in the manufacturing activities and which results in reduced man hours and increased productivity:
- For high labour-intensive industries (rubber products, plastics, wood, furniture, and textiles industries): 200% automation capital allowance on first MYR 4 million QCE (for years of assessment 2015 to 2023).
- Other industries: 200% automation capital allowance on first MYR 2 million QCE (for years of assessment 2015 to 2023).
Foreign tax credit
See Foreign income in the Income determination section for a discussion of the foreign tax credit regime.