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19 OCT 2023
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8:12 AM

Tax Audits – Understanding Why, When and How

Screencap of LHDN letter requesting additional company documents for tax audit purposes.

Tax audits are a critical component of Malaysia’s tax system, serving as a tool to ensure tax compliance and revenue collection. In Malaysia, the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) is responsible for conducting tax audits. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of tax audits in Malaysia, covering the why, when, and how they occur.

Why Tax Audits Are Conducted

Tax audits in Malaysia are primarily conducted for the following reasons:

i. Ensure Compliance: The primary goal of tax audits is to ensure taxpayers are complying with the country’s tax laws. This helps maintain a fair and level playing field for all taxpayers.

ii. Revenue Collection: Tax audits help the government collect the appropriate amount of taxes, ensuring that tax evaders are identified and brought to justice.

iii. Deterrence: Public knowledge of tax audits serves as a deterrent to potential tax evaders, discouraging fraudulent activities.

When Tax Audits Occur

Tax audits in Malaysia can happen for various reasons and at different times. Some common triggers for a tax audit include:

a. Random Selection: LHDN may select taxpayers for audit randomly to ensure a level of unpredictability, discouraging tax evasion.

b. Suspicion of Underreporting: If LHDN suspects that a taxpayer has underreported their income or overstated their deductions, they may conduct an audit.

c. Non-Compliance: Failure to file tax returns, making late payments, or repeated errors in tax returns can also lead to an audit.

d. Industry-Specific Focus: Sometimes, LHDN focuses on specific industries or sectors where tax evasion is more prevalent.

How Tax Audits are Conducted

Tax audits in Malaysia follow a structured process, with both desk and field audits being conducted.

1. Notification: Taxpayers are notified of an impending tax audit through a letter from the IRB. This letter outlines the purpose and scope of the audit.

2. Information Gathering: The taxpayer is required to provide various documents and records, including financial statements, invoices, receipts, and other relevant financial data. This information helps the auditor assess the accuracy of the taxpayer’s returns.

3. Desk Audit: A desk audit is conducted at the LHDN office, where auditors review the provided documents and make adjustments if necessary.

4. Field Audit: If the auditors find significant discrepancies or irregularities during the desk audit, they may conduct a field audit at the taxpayer’s premises. During the field audit, the auditors assess the taxpayer’s records on-site.

5. Exit Meeting: After the audit, the taxpayer is usually given an opportunity to discuss the audit findings with the auditors in an exit meeting. If adjustments are necessary, the taxpayer will be informed about the changes made to their tax liability.

6. Final Assessment: Based on the audit findings, LHDN will issue a final tax assessment, which may result in additional taxes, penalties, or interest charges.

7. Appeals and Disputes: If the taxpayer disagrees with the audit findings, they have the right to appeal to the Special Commissioners of Income Tax or the Tax Review Panel.


Tax audits in Malaysia are an essential part of the country’s tax collection system, ensuring compliance, revenue collection, and fairness among taxpayers. It is crucial for taxpayers to maintain accurate and up-to-date records to minimize the risk of being subjected to a tax audit. Understanding the process and requirements of tax audits can help individuals and businesses navigate the process more effectively and avoid potential legal issues. Compliance with tax laws is essential to contribute to the nation’s economic development and stability.

If you’re in need of guidance to navigate a tax audit, Bispoint Group is here to help. We provide a range of comprehensive business and financial solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia, including tax compliance, accounting, company incorporation and financial due diligence. Our team of highly skilled professionals can swiftly and expertly implement solutions to meet your business needs. Currently, we have over 70 dedicated teams, including Chartered Accountants, managers, supervisors, and junior associates in our offices serving over 1,000 private companies.

Speak to us to explore how we can provide long-term support for your business growth.

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