Samoan Govt seizes Church ministers’ assets

The Samoan government has begun to seize money from the accounts of church ministers who have failed to submit a monthly tax return as required by recently enacted legislation.

The Minister for Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said his ministry estimated more than 250 ministers of the church owed $US2500 each in unpaid tax for the first six months of the year.

“As of last week, we have given all the banks a list of names of the church ministers whose personal accounts will be affected by this seizure,” said Tialavea.

He said if the ministers don’t have any money, the government will seize their cars and lands, whatever assets they own, which have a market value.

“We will take and again, this is done under the authority of the law.”

Tialavea said the law was passed in January 2018 and all the church denominations complied, except the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS).

“Well, the law applies to everyone. The law does not wait until it is accepted or not.

“We have given church ministers six months and those who continue to defy the law will face the consequences.”

Workers making up to $US5900 dollars or 15,000 talas do not pay tax under reforms announced late last year.

Church ministers are included in this exemption.

But “Unless you file your taxes, we cannot determine which one makes less than the threshold,” the revenue minister said.

“However, once the church ministers have filed their taxes and it’s less, we will refund them.”

The chairman of the Samoan Bankers Association, Tu’u’u Amaramo Sialaoa, said the banks are caught in the middle between the Ministry of Revenue and the customers.

“However, the law is the law and obviously we need to comply with the law,” he said.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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