Malaysia is a tax friendly country, especially where expats are concerned. With your MM2H visa—the most popular visa in Malaysia for expats—you can open an account anywhere in Malaysia and bring in as much money as you like, tax-free.
Even if you are working here, you will find that taxes are low. Personal income tax at the highest rate is still only 27%. Additionally, taxes, like estate duties, annual wealth taxes, accumulated earnings tax, or federal taxes are not levied in Malaysia.
All persons staying in Malaysia for more than 182 days, no matter where you are from, are considered residents under Malaysian tax law. Anyone staying less than 182 days are regarded as non-residents, and are taxed on a different scale.
There is a third group of people who are exempt from taxation. This applies to those who are employed in Malaysia for less than 60 days in a year, who are over 55 years of age, and receive a Malaysian pension or interest from banks.
Under the MM2H visa, expats are not required to pay tax on their income, no matter where it comes from, as long as it’s remitted from overseas. This includes interest earned on income sitting in accounts in Malaysia. Currently cash rates are at 3%, while five-year deposit rates are at 5%.
If your income is earned in Malaysia, it is liable for tax. However, if you run a company—which you are allowed to do under the MM2H visa—the rules are a little different again. Under the MM2H visa you are allowed to run a company but you can’t be employed by that company and demand a regular salary. You can however take director’s fees and dividends whenever you like. Keep in mind also that as long as you keep your fees below RM34,000 (just under $8,000) per annum, you are not liable for tax. Anything over that and you will have to declare.
On the MM2H visa you are allowed to work—if you are over the age of 50—for 20 hours a week. However, you have to apply for this privilege and it may or may not be granted, depending on the industry that you are looking to enter. Your MM2H agent will be able to do this on your behalf and will also advise you ahead of the application if it will be successful or not, therefore saving you time and money.