Churches silent on latest move to collect unpaid tax

tax

Samoa’s National Council of Churches and Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) have declined to comment on the Government’s move to collect unpaid taxes directly from Church Ministers’ personal bank accounts.

General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Reverend Maauga Motu, told the Weekend Observer they remain neutral.

“This is a sensitive matter so we will not comment on it as it will only do harm than good,” he said.

“The church will do what they want and the government will do what they want as it is allowed under the law.”

Repeated emails sent to the CCCS’s General Secretary, Reverend Vavatau Taufao, on what actions the church will take to deal with the Government’s latest move, have not been answered.

The Minister for Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt says the seizure of funds is permitted under the Income Tax Act.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sa’ilele Malielegaoi agrees. He said the government does have the power under the law to take money and assets from anyone who owes taxes.

In an opinion piece in the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa has accused the Samoan government of hypocrisy.

“Minister Tialavea insists that Government’s decision is about doing ‘what is right.’ Fair enough,” he said.

“Why then has the Government not done anything to collect an outstanding debt of $87.6 million identified in the Public Account Management Audit report for the 2014-2015 financial years?

“How did this debt come about? Who in Samoa and what companies are responsible for it? If the principles of accountability and transparency were applied, would the Ministry of Revenue have been left with such a massive debt?

“And why haven’t Tuilaepa, Tialavea and their boys applied the law to recover this debt?”

Source

News category: Asia Pacific.