My take on Malaysia's Budget 2021?

Published November 8, 2020

Updated July 30, 2021

~5 mins read

Malaysia Budget 2021

While I did not sit around when the #Budget2021 was announced live over the evening yesterday, thanks to the power of social media and the beautiful summary done by KPMG Malaysia, I got up to speed rather quickly

I won't be discussing much on the macro-economics part of the #Budget2021, but instead I will be focusing more on the impact to our personal income tax, and zooming in some of those easy (and almost guaranteed) benefit for most of us with minimal criteria. But first we need to know what are the changes made to our personal income tax for year assessment (YA) 2021 onwards

What's changed in Tax Assessment Year 2021?

Generally I will be splitting them into two main categories, based on the policy's duration whether if a fixed period was specified ("Temporary") or if it an open ended ones ("Permanent"). Of course the government will have the right to amend or cease something the following Tax Assessment Year ("YA"). 


  • Reduction of 1% income tax rate for chargeable income bracket of RM50,001 - RM70,000 from 14% to 13% 
  • Increased Tax Relief (+RM2,000) for Medical Expenses for Self, Spouse and Children capped at RM8,000
  • Increased Tax Relief (+RM3,000) for Medical Treatment, Special Needs and Care Expenses for Parents capped at RM8,000
  • Increased Tax Relief (+RM500) for Lifestyle Expenses capped at RM3,000 (p/s: existing category will now include electronic newspaper)
  • Increased Tax Relief (+RM1,500) for Disabled Spouse capped at RM5,000


  • Income tax exemption (+RM10,000) for compensation of job loss capped at RM20,000 for YA 2020/2021
  • Capped individual income tax rate at 15% for 5 consecutive Year Assessments, if the individual is an:
    • Non-Malaysian Citizens in Companies with Relocation Incentive, subject to approval and conditions.
    • Malaysian Citizens returning to Malaysia as part of Returning Expert Programme (REP), subject to approval and conditions.
  • Income Tax Exemption for 50% of your investments made in Equity Crowdfunding, up to RM50,000 or 10% of aggregate income (whichever is lower) for investments between 1 Jan 2021 to 31 Dec 2023
  • Expanded coverage for tax relief on expenses incurred for Study Fees for YA 2021/2022
  • Extended Tax Relief (+4 years) for Private Retirement Scheme (PRS) contribution up to YA 2025, with existing tax relief cap at RM3,000.
  • Extended Tax Relief (+2 years) for Skim Simpanan Pendidikan National (SSPN) savings up to YA 2022, with existing tax relief cap at RM8,000.

I know most items above are in super high-level - if you're keen to know more about the tax relief / changes in detail, check out summary done by KPMG Malaysia,

By now you may have already noticed - I highlighted some of the items in red above and you might have guessed it already - those are the ones I will be focusing on today!

What's so interesting about those changes?

As always, let's start with the easy one first:

Reduction of 1% income tax rate for chargeable income bracket of RM50,001 - RM70,000

Household Income and Basic Amenities Survey Report 2019

As long as you are earning at least RM5,833.33 per month, it'd be a RM200 cash in the form of "tax reduction". Based on studies from Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), 50% of the household (M2 and above) would hopefully enjoy this benefit (hence the "median" income)

Extended 4 years for Tax Relief on Private Retirement Scheme (PRS)

In short, 4 additional years for us to get tax relief based on contributions into your private retirement funds. One easy way to calculate? (I use it all the time to convince others to PUT MONEY IN PRS to save on taxes legally)

multiply RM3,000 with your highest tax bracket

  • If you're currently taxed at 8% (chargeable income between RM35,001 - RM50,000), you will enjoy savings of RM240.
  • If you're currently taxed at 13% (chargeable income between RM50,001 - RM70,000), you will enjoy savings of RM390.
  • If you're currently taxed at 21% (chargeable income between RM70,001 - RM100,000), you will enjoy savings of RM630.
  • If you're currently taxed at 24% (chargeable income between RM100,001 - RM150,000), you will enjoy savings of RM720.

See how the savings go up as your in tandem with your income bracket? Now think about what will happen when you reinvest and compound these savings until your retirement age.

Income Tax Exemption for 50% of your Investments made in Equity Crowdfunding

Now to me, this is really the interesting one. Or at least it intrigued my interest enough to start reading more about Equity Crowdfunding and to understand its concept - I have at least half a year to think and plan it, eh?

The concept is simple, up to 50% of your capital invested into Equity Crowdfunding will be exempted from tax, hence reducing your chargeable incomes, capped at RM50,000 or 10% your aggregate income (whichever is lower). However the upfront capital required would need to be significant enough to actually create an impact to the savings. 

Simulated Mr. Beans

Take an example Mr Beans being a T20 earner in Kuala Lumpur earning RM22,610 per month (source: DOSM), with take-home-pay of RM16,016.15.

Based on his aggregate income of RM271,320, he can potentially go for tax exemption up to RM27,132 which means that he'll need to invest at least RM54,264 into Equity Crowdfunding companies. 

Assuming he have an aggressive savings rate of 50%, he'd get approx. RM8,000 savings per month (rounded) which will net him with RM96,000 for investment purposes throughout the year.

To maximise the tax relief, he would invest RM54,264 out of RM96,000 from his savings; which also means that 56% of his investment will go into Equity Crowdfunding. Let's assume he went ahead with it - the upside that he will get immediately is a net tax savings of RM6,511.68, or approx ~12% ROI sponsored from the Government, assuming typical individual tax reliefs claimed.

Mr Beans simulation on Tax Relief for Crowd Equity

This example is obviously biased - as we're talking about Mr Beans whom are part of the "top of the top" T20 group. While the realised benefit will still be in tandem with your corresponding tax bracket - it also begs the question: "with lesser pool of money available to invest, there must be many other alternatives out there where one can first capitalise?"

So what would I do?

For me at least, that's a huge risk that I personally would not pursue for a few reasons:

  • Equity Crowdfunding, like any investment, comes with risk - except its risk are so much higher that I would keep it at most ~5% of my portfolio (or even lesser!)
  • Liquidity. Unlike stock market where you can entry/exit easily, private equity isn't. 

Well at least one thing turned out well from this #Budget2021 announcement - I researched slightly into Equity Crowdfunding and decided that it's not for me yet at this stage. So we'll see next time.

This opinion piece went longer than I initially thought it would be, but I hope it was useful to you! Let me know in the comments below if there's anything else in particular that you'd like to know, and as always, see you in my next post!

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