Landlord’s Guide to Rental Income Tax in Malaysia: What You Need to Know


Understanding the nuances of rental income tax is crucial for landlords to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. Here’s a simplified guide to navigate the complexities of non-business income taxation in Malaysia.

What is Rental Income Tax?

Rental income tax applies to profits earned from renting out residential, commercial properties, machinery, and ships. It is governed by Section 4(d) of the Income Tax Act 1967. The key points include:

  • Tax Rates: Residents are taxed on a progressive scale from 0% to 30%, while non-residents face a fixed rate of 30%.
  • Taxable Period: The obligation begins from the date of the first rental.
  • Income Calculation: Tax is levied on net income after deducting allowable expenses.

Classification: Rental vs. Business Income

Understanding whether your income qualifies as rental (passive) or business (active) is crucial. Active management of properties might reclassify rental income as business income under Section 4(a), subjecting it to different tax treatments.


Deductible Expenses

You can deduct certain expenses to calculate your net taxable income, including:

  • Assessment tax, quit rent
  • Property repairs and fire insurance
  • Rent collection and renewal fees
  • Interest on home loans
  • Maintenance fees for strata properties

Non-deductible initial expenses include advertising, legal fees, stamp duty, and agent commissions.

Vacant Properties

For properties vacant for a year without income, while you can’t declare rental income, the incurred expenses are still deductible, potentially offsetting the net rental income from other properties.

Calculating Net Rental Income

Your net rental income, derived after deducting allowable expenses from your gross rental income, forms your taxable base. A net income of zero or a loss exempts you from declaring rental income in your tax filing.

Compliance and Penalties

Failure to accurately declare rental income can lead to penalties under Section 113 of the Income Tax Act 1967, including fines and special penalties amounting to double the undercharged tax.

Filing Your Income Tax

  1. Tax Obligation: Determine your eligibility based on annual income and residency duration.
  2. Chargeable Income: Calculate using applicable rates and deductions.
  3. Filing Period: Begins in the first quarter of the year for the previous assessment year.
  4. Required Documents: Maintain all related pay slips, forms, and receipts.
  5. Filing Methods: Tax returns can be filed online or manually at LHDN offices.
  6. Deadlines: Adhere to filing deadlines to avoid penalties.

Proper understanding and compliance with rental income tax regulations are essential for landlords. By following these guidelines, you can ensure accurate reporting, optimize your deductions, and avoid unnecessary penalties, contributing to a smoother tax filing process.

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