Samoan government’s tax law is a return to a colonial mindset


The General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (EFKS), says the demand that Church ministers pay tax is part of a colonial mindset that the government seems to have revived.

Reverend Vavatau Taufao says taxing church ministers is just the first step.

“If this colonial mindset is allowed to continue, when will it reach the matai (high chiefs), taulelea (untitled men) … but that’s my view. I’m very disappointed.”

Vavatau made the comment in response to Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi’s use of old issues of the government-run Savali newspaper to show that church ministers paid taxes when Samoa was governed by Germany.

“These Savali issues are from 1906,” Vavatau said in a special programme aired on church-run television station EFKS TV.

“Listen to the words: Ia lafo tupe a matai ma faifeau lotu, ia tofu ma le 12 maka, a’o taulelea, ia tofu ma le tai 8 maka.” 

[In English: Matai and church ministers were to pay twelve deutschmarks, the untitled men were to pay eight deutschmarks.]

Vavatau went on to say the church has a deeper concern, one that underlies the tax question – the reference to the pastor being an employee.

He said the EFKS membership can never belittle their pastors like that because they value their covenant relationship.

“If the Pastor is the employee, his only employer is God. They are workers for God.

“So unless the Government want to retrieve the tax from God, then they can go ahead and do that themselves.”

The Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has warned that all church Ministers have until 31 July 2018 to comply or face the consequences.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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