Catholic church in Samoa accepts the new tax laws

tax

The Catholic Church and the Methodist Church in Samoa have said that they accept a new law requiring their ministers to pay tax.

But at a recent general assembly, the leaders of the Congregational Christian Church (CCCS) said they would ignore the law.

In a speech in parliament, the prime minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi praised the support of the leaders and members of the other denominations.

But he equated the CCCS’s behaviour to holding the Government to ransom.

“The CCCS have pointed a gun at the Government’s head.

“A government which was chosen by members of this House, which includes the head of this House and this Parliament.

“This is something the Government does not take lightly,” said Tuilaepa.

“Parliament’s authority is clear. They are empowered to discuss national developments and to review bills for the same.

“These bills, once passed by this House, are given to the Head of State to assent, which then become ‘Acts of Parliament’.”

The CCCS is Samoa’s largest denomination, with 29 percent of Samoans identifying with it, according to the 2016 census.

The church’s general secretary, Reverend Vavatau Taufao, said the new law was seen by the assembly as an affront to their beliefs because many pastors lived off donations.

RNZ Pacific’s correspondent in Apia, Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia, said while the pastors did indeed live off donations, many ministers lived quite comfortably on much more than the average Samoan.

He cited an example of a church minister getting $Tala 6000.00 – round about US$3,000 a fortnight.

Taufao said that while some pastors did earn decent money from donations, others – particularly in more remote areas – earned little. So it was unfair that they should be taxed.

Source

News category: Asia Pacific.

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