Human Resources & Payroll

Individual Income Tax in Malaysia for Expatriates

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HR-Payroll-Cover-300-230By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Ellena Brunetti

Revised and Updated by Bradley Dunseith

Malaysia uses both progressive and flat rates for personal income tax, depending on an individual’s duration and type of work in the country. As expatriates may fall into either tax category depending on their work, it is important to understand Malaysia’s basic tax structure. 

The Income Tax Act of 1967 structures personal income taxation in Malaysia, while the Malaysian government’s annual budget can change the rates and variables for an individual’s taxation.

In this article, we explain how expatriates should calculate their individual income tax in Malaysia. We highlight exceptions to tax rates and penalties for noncompliance.

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The Guide to Employment Permits for Foreign Workers in Myanmar

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Alexander Chipman Koty

As Myanmar continues to open up after years of isolation, many foreign investors and multinational companies are entering the country for the first time. For investors establishing businesses from the ground-up, skilled and experienced foreign workers are often brought in to oversee the establishment of new operations. The ability to employ skilled foreign workers is particularly important in Myanmar given the poor state of training and work-preparedness in the country. According to the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, of Myanmar’s population of approximately 52 million, there are only about 500 skilled workers who meet international standards.

The laws concerning the employment of foreign workers in Myanmar are still developing, as is the case with many other regulations governing the country’s rapidly changing business environment. Myanmar lacks a comprehensive work permit system for foreign workers, though the National League for Democracy-led government is drafting legislation to create a more cohesive framework. That being said, there are currently multiple paths for foreigners to acquire legal working status in Myanmar, which will be explored below.

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Personal Income Tax in ASEAN: a Guide to 2017 Rates

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates 
Editor: Maxfield Brown

Personal income tax, or PIT as it is commonly reffered, is a tax levied on all wage earners within a given jurisdiction. With the exception of Brunei and Cambodia, the former having no PIT in place and the latter a fixed 20 percent rate, ASEAN members all employ a progressive taxation system wherein an individual is taxed according to how much they earn. This results in individuals with a higher salary being taxed at a greater rate than those with a lower one. Rates vary wildly across the regional bloc, with some countries capping their maximum PIT at as much as 45 percent and others at as little as 17 percent.

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Trends in personal income taxation

Although its fluctuations have not been as pronounced as those of CIT (corporate income tax), the individual income tax rates of ASEAN have for the most part also been experiencing a downward turn in recent years. Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia, for instance, have all marginally lowered their PIT rates since the turn of the century. To make up for this revenue, however, many countries have increased taxation in upper tax brackets.

For many of ASEAN’s economies experiencing rapid growth, there has been a drive to create new tax brackets to accommodate rising incomes. Myanmar, most recently, created an income band for top earners which currently levies a 30 percent tax.

ASEAN’s PIT rates compared

Below, we outline PIT tax brackets in individual member states. To help readers understand how these rates fit into the context of these countries’ wage structures, we have also included the average salary of different ASEAN states.

Personal Income Tax Brackets Vietnam Singapore Malaysia Myanmar Thailand Philippines Indonesia Laos Cambodia

Related-Reading-Icon-Asean Link RELATED: Individual Income Tax in Malaysia for Expatriates

It is important to remember that these figures are based upon estimates and exchange rates at the time of writing, and therefore should not be used to make any meaningful PIT calculations. For a free consultation  on personal income tax across the region or in particular ASEAN states, please contact 


Asia Briefing Ltd. is a subsidiary of Dezan Shira & Associates. Dezan Shira is a specialist foreign direct investment practice, providing corporate establishment, business advisory, tax advisory and compliance, accounting, payroll, due diligence and financial review services to multinationals investing in China, Hong Kong, India, Vietnam, Singapore and the rest of ASEAN. For further information, please email or visit

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dsa brochureDezan Shira & Associates Brochure
Dezan Shira & Associates is a pan-Asia, multi-disciplinary professional services firm, providing legal, tax and operational advisory to international corporate investors. Operational throughout China, ASEAN and India, our mission is to guide foreign companies through Asia’s complex regulatory environment and assist them with all aspects of establishing, maintaining and growing their business operations in the region. This brochure provides an overview of the services and expertise Dezan Shira & Associates can provide.

An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2016An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2016
An Introduction to Doing Business in ASEAN 2016 introduces the fundamentals of investing in the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, concentrating on economics, trade, corporate establishment and taxation. We also include the latest development news in our “Important Updates” section for each country, with the intent to provide an executive assessment of the varying component parts of ASEAN, assessing each member state and providing the most up-to-date economic and demographic data on each.

Human Resources in ASEANHuman Resources in ASEAN
In this issue of ASEAN Briefing, we discuss the prevailing structure of ASEAN’s labor markets and outline key considerations regarding wages and compliance at all levels of the value chain. We highlight comparative sentiment on labor markets within the region, showcase differences in cost and compliance between markets, and provide insight on the state of statutory social insurance obligations throughout the bloc. 

Sourcing Talent in ASEAN: A Guide to Regional Opportunities

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By Dezan Shira & Associates
Editor: Maxfield Vandel Brown

With over 625 million inhabitants spanning 10 member states, ASEAN is endowed with a diverse workforce capable of supporting a multitude of manufacturing and service based investments. For those exploring opportunities or actively investing in the region, the benefits of being able to house entire value chains within the bloc must simultaneously be tempered with an understanding that availability of talent and the regulatory conditions under which staffing takes place are largely determined at the member state level. Navigating the dynamics of individual members is therefore a critical precursor to narrowing a search for opportunity within ASEAN and an integral component of strategic planning and expansion.

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Human Resources in ASEAN – New Issue of ASEAN Briefing Magazine

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HR in ASEAN 250x350The latest issue of ASEAN Briefing Magazine, titled “Human Resources in ASEAN“, is out now and available to subscribers as a complimentary download in the Asia Briefing Publication Store through the month of January.

In this issue of ASEAN Briefing

  • Sourcing Talent in ASEAN: A Guide to Regional Opportunities
  • Assessing Regional Wage Differentials
  • Overtime and Social Insurance Compliance Considerations

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Daily Minimum Wage Rates in Thailand to Increase from January 1, 2017

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By Zolzaya Erdenebileg

The Thai cabinet on November 22, 2016 approved the recommendations of the Central Wage Committee to increase the daily minimum wage rates by an additional five to 10 Thai Baht (THB) for 69 provinces with effect from January 1, 2017.

This will be the first adjustment in the country’s minimum wage rates since January 1, 2013. Currently, the minimum wage is THB 300 (US$8.39) per day across the country. The current minimum wage rate will be maintained in the eight provinces of Sing Buri, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Ranong, Narathiwat, Pattani and Yala.

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Myanmar Opens Three Overland Crossings to e-Visas

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By: Dezan Shira & Associates

Myanmar’s Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population has extended e-visas to three overland crossings with the Kingdom of Thailand. Following a limited introduction of e-visas at select airports in July, the rollout of e-visas at land crossings has been applied since September 1st. The move is set to significantly reduce application times, and is being rolled out as part of a larger push to replace in person applications that were previously required.

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Overland Crossings Set to Accept e-Visas

While more crossings are to be included in the near future, the three crossing that currently accept e-visas include Tachileik, Myawaddy, and Kawthaung. Similar to the rollout of e-Visas for aviation, the introduction of the e-visa program at land crossings is to be gradually expanded as athourities optimize their internal system. 

  • Tachileik: Located in the north of the country, Tachileik is a key point of transit for those traveling between Laos and Myanmar via Thailand. 
  • MyawaddyLocated in Central Myanmar, this crossing has become a hub for the transit of gems and other mineral resources flowing out of Myanmar. 
  • KawthaungThe southern most crossing that has been opened to the land e-visa program. Primarily used as a transit point for tourists crossing between the two countries, the area is also known for agriculture products including: rubber, betel nut, cashew nut, coconut and oil palm.

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Rooting Out Slave Labor: An Introduction to Sustainable Manufacturing in ASEAN

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By: Maxfield Brown & Aysha Nesbitt

Though more companies than ever are making strides to manage and improve the image of their operations, the constant appetite for cost reduction exposes supply chains to the reputational risk of worker exploitation. With some of the world’s most cost competitive hubs, ASEAN and its regional competitors offer a diverse array of labor conditions. Investors choosing ASEAN as a means of gaining an edge over competitors must therefore be cautious of where they choose to commit capital and the characteristics of the markets in which these investments are made.

Of the nearly 21 million people in the world today trapped under forced labor, 56 percent reside in the Asia-Pacific Region. Forced labor refers to any work people are forced to do against their will, including bonded labor, child labor, and all slave practices. Today it is tied closely to construction, manufacturing and agriculture, with 68 percent of forced laborers working in these industries.

For investors in at risk industries seeking to expand into ASEAN and its surrounding competitors, understanding the factors that drive exploitation and creating investment strategies to avoid these risks can provide significant mitigation against future losses. Furthermore, given effective due diligence, the implementation of these strategies can come at a minimal up-front cost.

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Indonesia Promotes ASEAN Minimum Wage

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By: Maxfield Brown

Indonesia has announced its intention to propose a regional minimum wage for ASEAN during a recent World Economic Forum event held on the first and second of June in Kuala Lumpur. During the event, Indonesian officials cited wage disparities between low cost production hubs such as Vietnam and those economies with more expensive labor forces, and  expressed concerns that these differences could result in a race to the bottom and ultimately lead to the exploitation of workers. The specifics of Indonesia’s proposal are expected to be released at the upcoming ASEAN manpower ministers’ meeting.

Surprisingly, there has been considerable fanfare behind the idea of an ASEAN minimum wage, with Cambodia and Vietnam among those showing support. However, the extent of regional commitment remains to be seen as nations continue to compete for capital inflows brought on by a number of pending trade agreements and relatively competitive workforces. Beyond doubts over the willingness of nations to implement a minimum wage, questions also arise over the current capacity of ASEAN as a whole to institute regional standards of this magnitude.

From the perspective of investment, collective commitments to a regional wage minimum bring up important questions over the structure of wage floors within ASEAN. With regard to regulation as a whole, talk of a minimum wage also necessitates reflection on the ability of ASEAN’s current treaty structure to institute and enforce regulations of this magnitude. 

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Labor Mobility in ASEAN: Current Commitments and Future Limitations

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asean laborBy: Alexander Chipman Koty 

With the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, ASEAN achieved a significant milestone in the region’s growing political, economic, and cultural integration. As set out in 2007’s ASEAN Economic Blueprint, the AEC seeks to “transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital.” While considerable progress has been made in liberalizing and normalizing the region’s standards in most of these areas, establishing the free movement of skilled labor lags appreciably behind.

Although ASEAN has clearly stated its goal to promote skilled labor mobility, current policies not only trail the European Union, where freedom of movement is essentially unencumbered, but also less ambitious regional trade agreements such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). The lack of a cohesive regional framework, nationalist and protectionist policies, and middling political will impede ASEAN’s skilled labor mobility. However, employers can still take advantage of policies that facilitate the hiring of skilled workers in certain sectors to address the frequent skilled labor shortages found within ASEAN countries.

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