Turning your Art Practice into a Business Entity

    Registering a business is not so complex and it helps visual artists in multiple ways. The benefits also outweigh the risks, so it should be in the mind of every artist. In Malaysia, there are two types of registrations – Business and Company.

    In essence what an artist should look into is Business Registration, because Company Registration falls into a more complex entity with multiple employees. There are two Business Registration types handled by Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) which are:

    Sole Proprietorship
    This mode fits the bill for any artist to register their art practice. As the name implies, only one person is the owner of the business and manages it. There are no other shareholders, but this does not mean you have to run everything yourself. As a registered entity, you can hire people to help you.

    Partnership is registered when two or more people are involved in the company. Artists that are looking to start a collective or studio with other people fall under this category. By registering early, everyone has their part to play and this will ease any clashes that might happen.

    How To Register Your Business
    Registering a business is easy because everything is done online and does not necessitate the applicant to physically go to an SSM office to get registered1.

    Ezbiz Registration
    All business registrations are done online through the Ezbiz website. The first step is to register an Ezbiz Account. Take note that registering Ezbiz is not the same as registering your business. The function of the account is that the registered name is in the SSM database, so that any future applications can be done online.

    1. Head on to the Ezbiz website and click on the Sign Up button. This leads you to the next page where you require:
        • ID type
        • ID number
        • Full name as per your MyKad

    2. By clicking Register, you move on to the page where you provide personal information. Fill them in accordingly, then check the box after reading the Terms & Conditions before clicking Save.

    3. The final step is to go to any SSM office to submit your thumbprint verification before any transaction can be done through the registered account. This needs to be done only once.

    Business Registration

    After having an EZbiz account, registering your business is only a few clicks away. The steps are:

    1. Log into your EZbiz account;

    2. Head to the top bar to the My Business Services tab;

    3. Click on New Business under the New Business Registration tab;

    4. Then it moves to a new page that consists of five sections and forms that need to be filled in. The content are as follows:
    a. Main Information
        • Name Type
          • Your business name can be your own private name or a trade name. A trade name can be anything you think suits your practice.
      • Business Start Date
        • The normal period for business registration is about 30 (working) days from the start of your business.
    This section is not applicable unless you are a student starting a business.
    Registration Time
    This is the period that the registered company SSM certificate remains active. It can be from one year up to five years.
    Business Info
    Select “yes” for this part as this will include your company in the SSM database, so it becomes searchable.
    Don’t worry about this part as it is an administrative matter for the SSM staff.
    If you’re working outside of Sabah, you should select “No”.
    If you’re starting a business in Sabah and have used an incubator service, select “Yes”.
    Online Seller
    If you have other merchandise apart from selling your own work, it’s wise to select “Yes”. There’s no harm in this if you don’t do online work but it will come in handy when you do decide to do it someday.

    Business Address & Mailing Address
    In the case of big companies, they may have different addresses like factories and a mailing office address for administration.
    Starting a small business, the business and mailing address can be the same – be it your home or the studio you’re working from.
    This can be skipped if you don’t have any other outlets for your business.
    Business Code
    Business Type
    This is where you write about your practice and it should represent what you’re doing or selling.
    Business Code
    This differentiates the type of business done. You can key in “Art” in the search field and select the best code to represent you. Take note that you can pick more than one code, so select multiple choices.
    If you’re registering for sole-proprietorship, you can skip this part.
    If you’re registering a partnership, this should include your partner’s name and ID number.
    You can also skip this part as it is only for businesses that need supporting documents.
    Fees & Declaration
    This final section shows you the payment for your registration. The fees are:
    Registration Of Business – this is either RM30 a year if you’re using your own name, or RM60 if you have a trade name.
    Branches – if there are no other outlets in your registration, there’s no cost for this.
    Business Info – this is the fee for your business details to be included in the SSM Database and costs RM10.
    And that’s it! You’ve taken all the necessary steps to register, and if there are no issues regarding your name, the application should be completed in a few hours. You will get a notification, and then you can download your SSM Business Certificate.a.

    As a committee member of the Voice Guild Malaysia (www.voiceguild.org), an association for voiceover talents, Diong knows what she’s talking about. The organisation was set up about 20 years ago because freelancers in the industry were facing problems getting paid on time – if at all sometimes, she adds – and to set some kind of a standard rate for the expertise provided.

    “So now we have guidelines that govern the fees paid for the duration of the work, the scope of the work, etc. And it was hard at first because clients were not receptive to us and freelancers ended up under-cutting each other.
    But we’ve got to stand up for each other, and demand to be treated and respected as professionals.”

    Safety net

    Diong says paying into your EPF (www.kwsp.gov.my) is easy because you can just sign up and contribute as you earn, and this gives you better financial security, more so than saving your money in a bank, because the interest rates are higher. She really encourages those in theatre and the performing arts to start an account even if you’re a freelancer.

    “The tricky one is SOCSO (www.perkeso.gov.my) because that requires you to pay every month, so even when you’re not working or if you’re not earning much, you still have to declare something. There’s no room for you to declare yourself as unemployed – you have to work out some sort of minimum monthly salary for yourself based on the jobs you do get. Just make sure that it’s not too high that you can’t afford to continue paying when you don’t have a job.”

    The good thing about SOCSO, Diong says, is that it’s work-related, so for example if you’re heading to the theatre to do your show, or going home after a rehearsal event, and you get into an accident, you can claim medical coverage for that.

    And because it’s a government agency, you don’t have to ‘fight’ them – as you sometimes would with a private insurance company because your policy might not honour your claims.

    “SOCSO also recognises a lot more jobs, even in the performing arts, and there are several categories you can put yourself under. It’s especially helpful if you’re a set builder or a technician, and you get injured, and you need to make a claim,” she adds.

    Declaring your taxes (www.hasil.gov.my), she says, is also beneficial for those in the performing arts because if you decide to buy property for example and you need a bank loan, they will want to see that you’ve got a good credit history, she says. “You might not have to pay any taxes because of what you earn as a freelancer, but the important thing is that you file your salaries, so that you have an account and that might help your credit score in securing a loan.”

    Because you have plenty of deductions you can make in your tax return, she adds, you might never have to fork out anything. “But you can show the bank that your account has been active as evidence you’re a taxpayer.” She cites the pandemic as an example of how having a tax file benefits those in the performing arts. “Because the government is offering some monetary relief, you can qualify for these funds if you have a tax account.”

    Having been an actor and someone who has run her own theatre company, she empathises with performing artists if you feel overwhelmed with the paperwork. “It’s very much an administrative thing, so if you’re only the artistic sort, find someone who can help you navigate your taxes. My only tip is: Keep all your receipts. And try not to be paid in cash. Everything that’s banked in will be in your bank statement, and therefore easy for you to track.”

    What is SOCSO?
    SOCSO (Social Security Organisation) is sometimes referred to as PERKESO (Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial). It is a government agency formed in 1971 under the Ministry of Human Resources. SOCSO gives social security protection in terms of cash and benefits to employees in the private sector in case of workplace injuries, emergencies, occupational sickness, and death. Both employers and employees should contribute to SOCSO payments.

    What is EPF?
    The Employees Provident Fund is one of the world’s oldest provident funds. Established in 1951, EPF helps the Malaysian workforce save for their retirement in accordance with the Employees Provident Fund Act 1991. Today, EPF continues to refine its vision to not only stay relevant but to create a better retirement for all members. This strengthens the commitment in safeguarding its members’ savings and increasing the dedication in providing excellent services.

    Freelancers and taxes
    All individuals are required to file their taxes if they already have a registered tax file, or if their annual income exceeds RM34,000 after deducting their EPF contributions. As long as you have reached the specified income threshold that can be taxed, then it is necessary for you to file your taxes. If you’re a freelancer, you would not have an EA form from your employer. Hence, you will need to tabulate your own profits by checking your invoices and expenses. It’s a good idea for you to do your bookkeeping accurately as you conduct your business throughout the year.
    Depending on whether you’ve registered your freelance work as a business or not, you may be required to use different forms to file your taxes. If you’ve not registered your freelance work as a business, then fill up the BE form. If you have registered your work as a business, then the right form to use is the B form.

    Benjamin Franklin, penulis, ahli sains, pereka, ahli politik dan falsafah yang tersohor dari Amerika Syarikat selalu dipetik dalam ungkapan beliau dan menyatakan bahawa hanya ada dua perkara dalam hidup yang pasti: kematian dan cukai. Ini merupakan realiti hidup yang perlu dihadapi oleh penggiat seni tempatan di Malaysia semenjak dua tahun kebelakangan ini.

    Walaupun perkataan cukai ini bunyinya amat perit buat para penggiat seni "freelancer", namun menurut Chae Lian Diong, pengasas syarikat Teater Gardner & Wife, terdapat pelbagai aspek positif yang dapat kita perolehi apabila membuka akaun dan membayar cukai, atau sekurang-kurangnya membuat pemfailan bagi pendapat hasil seni anda.

    "KWSP (Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja) dan PERKESO (Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial) mempunyai kategori khas bagi penggiat seni. Jika anda mendapat pendapatan daripada teater, anda boleh membuat caruman kepada agensi-agensi ini dan akaun anda, tanpa menubuhkan sebuah syarikat. Namun perkara ini adalah sukarela jadi jumlah orang yang membuat pemfailan cukai dan KWSP hanyalah 3%," kata beliau. "Jadi hakikatnya, sejumlah besar pekerja freelance ini tidak akan memfailkan cukai sehingga dipaksa."

    Diong berkata membuat pemfailan cukai atau akaun KWSP bagi pendapatan teater sebenarnya dapat membantu dalam tempoh 20 atau 30 tahun akan datang. "Sebenarnya, jika perkara ini tidak diwajibkan ramai freelancer dan penggiat teater tidak akan membuat pemfailan ini kerana ada yang tidak tahu berapa lama mereka akan berada dalam dunia teater atau mereka rasa belum mendapat pendapatan yang cukup."

    Ini juga merupakan antara perkara yang perlu diberi perhatian bagi penggiat teater di Malaysia, soal gaji minima, tambah beliau. Hal Ini kerana, sesetengah tugasan atau kerja seni ini sukar dinilai dengan wang ringgit, maka para freelance seni sering menjadi mangsa dan sering diambil kesempatan.

    "Mungkin ada yang merasakan tugas seorang pelakon atau juruacara itu mudah. Anda cuma perlu berdiri dan bercakap. Sebenarnya lakonan dan berucap di khalayak ramai juga memerlukan latihan yang banyak dan kerap untuk mencapai suatu tahap kepakaran." katanya.

    "Ia merupakan satu pekerjaan seperti orang lain juga dan kami seharusnya dibayar pada kadar yang berpatutan. Namun persepsi bahawa tugasan ini "mudah" akan memberi kesan buruk kepada penggiat seni dalam jangka masa yang panjang. Jika perkara ini tidak diberi perhatian yang betul dan tiada badan berkanun yang menjaga kami, jadi kami terpaksa menjaga diri kami sendiri."
    Sebagai seorang ahli jawatankuasa Voice Guild Malaysia (www.voiceguild.org), sebuah organisasi bagi bakat suara, Diong arif tentang apa yang beliau katakan. Organisasi ini telah ditubuhkan semenjak 20 tahun lalu untuk membantu freelancer kerana industri itu mengalami masalah untuk pembayaran mengikut waktu yang ditetapkan serta menjaga kadar bayaran yang berpatutan.

    "Sekarang kita mempunyai garis panduan pembayaran yang berpatutan untuk sebuah tugasan mengikut skop kerja dan tempoh masa yang tertentu. Pada mulanya ia agak sukar untuk diterima oleh para pelanggan 
    dan ada sesetengah freelancer yang mengambil kesempatan. Namun kami perlu bangkit dan mempertahankan hak kami untuk diberi penghormatan profesional yang sama".

    Jaringan Keselamatan

    Diong berkata membayar KWSP (www.kwsp.gov.my) itu mudah kerana anda cuma perlu mendaftar dan mencarum apabila anda meraih pendapatan. Ini dapat memberikan anda keselamatan kewangan yang lebih baik daripada meletakkan wang anda di bank kerana faedahnya lebih tinggi. Beliau benar-benar menggalakkan penggiat seni persembahan dan teater untuk mula mencarum, walaupun anda seorang freelance.

    "PERKESO (www.perkeso.gov.my) mungkin sedikit rumit kerana anda perlu membayar setiap bulan. Walaupun anda tidak bekerja atau tidak mendapat pendapatan yang banyak, anda masih perlu isytihar sesuatu. Anda tidak boleh melabelkan diri anda sebagai penggangur. Berdasarkan purata tugas bulanan, anda perlu menyatakan anggaran gaji minima untuk anda isytiharkan. Pastikan jumlahnya tidak terlalu tinggi dan anda mampu membuat caruman walaupun tidak ada tugasan pada bulan tersebut."

    Apa yang baik mengenai PERKESO adalah ianya membabitkan tugasan anda, kata Diong. Sebagai contoh, anda sedang dalam perjalanan ke persembahan teater atau ingin pulang selepas sesi latihan dan anda terlibat dalam kemalangan. Ia dapat membantu anda untuk membuat tuntutan perubatan.

    Oleh kerana PERKESO merupakan sebuah agensi kerajaan, anda tidak perlu "bergaduh" dengan mereka seperti mana yang sering terjadi dengan syarikat insurans swasta apabila mereka memaklumkan bahawa polisi kita tidak merangkumi tuntutan tersebut.

    "PERKESO juga mengiktiraf pelbagai jenis pekerjaan, dan seni persembahan juga tidak terkecuali. Terdapat beberapa kategori untuk anda mendaftar. Ianya sangat membantu lebih-lebih lagi jika anda seorang pereka set atau juruteknik, anda tercedera dan anda ingin membuat tuntutan." tambah beliau.

    Mengisytihar cukai (www.hasil.gov.my) kata beliau, juga memberi manfaat kepada penggiat seni persembahan kerana jika anda bercadang untuk membeli sebuah rumah misalnya dan anda perlu mendapatkan pinjaman bank, bank akan menilai jika anda mempunyai skor kredit yang baik, kata beliau.
    "Anda mungkin tidak perlu membayar sebarang cukai kerana pendapatan anda tidak mencukupi sebagai seorang freelance. Namun apa yang penting adalah anda memfailkan pendapatan dan memiliki sebuah akaun. Ini akan membantu anda mendapatkan pinjaman bank."

    Tambah beliau, oleh kerana terdapat pelbagai potongan yang boleh dibuat dalam pencukaian, anda mungkin tidak perlu membayar apa apa. "Namun anda boleh buktikan kepada bank bahawa anda seorang pembayar cukai." Beliau turut memberikan pandemik sebagai contoh keuntungan seorang pemilik akaun cukai. "Kerajaan telah memberikan beberapa bantuan kewangan dan jika anda seorang pemilik akaun cukai anda layak menjadi penerima."

    Sebagai seorang pelakon dan penyelia sebuah syarikat teater sendiri, dia turut bersimpati dengan orang-orang seni yang merasa sukar dengan kertas kerja yang ada. "Ini merupakan satu tugas perkeranian, jadi jika anda seorang seniman, carilah seseorang untuk membantu pencukaian anda. Satu nasihat saya, simpan semua resit anda dan cuba elakkan untuk dibayar secara tunai. Semua yang dibayar melalui bank akan terpapar di dalam kenyataan bank anda dan lebih mudah dikesan."

    Apa itu PERKESO?

    PERKESO (Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial) juga dikenali sebagai SOCSO (Social Security Organisation). Ia adalah sebuah agensi kerajaan yang ditubuhkan pada 1971 dibawah Kementerian Sumber Manusia. PERKESO memberi keselamatan sosial dalam bentuk wang ringgit dan manfaat kepada pekerja di dalam sektor swasta bagi kecederaan tempat kerja, kecemasan, kesakitan pekerjaan dan kematian. Kedua-dua pekerja dan majikan seharusnya mencarum bayaran PERKESO.

    Apa itu KWSP?

    Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja (KWSP) merupakan antara tabung simpanan persaraan tertua dan yang terbesar di dunia. Ditubuhkan pada 1951, KWSP membantu tenaga kerja Malaysia menabung untuk persaraan mereka selaras dengan Akta Kumpulan Wang Simpanan Pekerja 1991. Hari ini, KWSP terus menyempurnakan lagi visi mereka bukan sahaja untuk kekal relevan tetapi untuk mencipta persaraan yang lebih baik untuk semua ahli. Ia menguatkan lagi komitmen KWSP untuk melindungi simpanan ahli dan meningkatkan dedikasi dalam memberi perkhidmatan cemerlang.

    Pekerja Bebas (Freelancer) dan cukai

    Semua individu perlu memfailkan cukai mereka jika fail cukainya telah didaftarkan atau jika pendapatan tahunan mereka telah melebihi RM34,000 selepas potongan KWSP. Selagi anda melepasi had pendapatan tersebut, maka anda perlulah memfailkan cukai. Jika anda seorang freelancer, tidak ada borang EA dari majikan maka anda perlu membuat pengiraan keuntungan berdasarkan pendapatan dan perbelanjaan anda. Satu cara yang baik adalah untuk anda membuat catatan yang tepat sepanjang urusniaga tahunan anda.

    Bergantung sama ada anda telah mendaftarkan perniagaan anda atau belum, anda mungkin perlu menggunakan borang yang berbeza untuk memfailkan cukai. Jika anda belum mendaftarkan kerja sebagai freelancer anda sebagai sebuah perniagaan, anda perlu mengisi borang BE. Jika anda telah mendaftarkan perniagaan anda, borang yang betul untuk diisi adalah borang B.
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