Critics of tax imposed on clergy reduce government official to tears

tax

In Samoa, critics of the new tax laws used language that was so strong and emotive that it led to one government official shedding tears.

Church ministers did not mince words when they expressed anger and disappointment at the Samoan government’s decision to tax their incomes – and gratuities – starting on 1 January 2018.

However, prime minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is unrepentant over the government’s decision to tax the incomes and gratuities for church ministers.

He insists that taxes belong to the government and therefore church ministers should pay. That was his response to the latest wave of negative comments about the tax scheme targeting churches.

The seminar was held at Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi Building. It was supposed to be a platform for church ministers and government officials of the Ministry of Revenue to interact and raise issues associated with the taxing of pastors.

Several church ministers said the government had underestimated the impact of what they had done, not just on the church but on all members of the public.

Accepting the fact that they soon would be paying taxes, Reverend Siaosi Samuelu, of the Catholic Church at Salua Manono, urged the government to use tax monies wisely.

“There are countless families in Upolu especially at Aleipata who don’t have access to water and electricity,” he said. “Use those monies to help those families. Use it wisely please but don’t abuse and waste them.”

Ministry of Revenue officials said they would take note of the concerns expressed.

They also revealed that a form would be given to churches for pastors or church secretaries to indicate how much money a pastor receives. This form should then be submitted to the Ministry of Revenue with the payment of the tax.

One church minister took exception to this proposal, saying “It’s not our duty to bring this form to your office after every fortnight.”

 

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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