The government’s move to tax the Head of State and Church Ministers is a step away from becoming law.
This was confirmed by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, during an interview with the Samoa Observer.
“It has been approved by Cabinet,” he said.
“Although it’s approved by Cabinet, it has to be approved by Parliament in order for it to be implemented.
“And once that is done, it won’t be effective until January 2018.”
He said Cabinet’s endorsement follows a report from the Ministry of Revenue, which gathered the views from several public consultations held. Some of the consultations were poorly attended.
“Despite what our Ministry wants, we depend on Cabinet and Parliament for their approval and final decision,” he said.
“It’s now with Parliament and each constituency has its representative in there, so once it’s approved by Cabinet then it will be effective by January 2018.”
He told Samoa Observer earlier the government’s intention is for everyone in Samoa to be taxed.
Ti’alavea said the Ministry has been entrusted with the task of generating revenue to pay for the developments and they are not leaving any stone unturned.
“I took the oath when I was selected as the Minister that I would do everything to make sure that we get extra money for the development of the country,” he said.
“So we are now in the process and we are reviewing the laws to make sure that everyone pays taxes.”
Ti’alavea said the review includes the existing law which excludes Church Ministers from paying income tax.
“The proposed changes targets the money church ministers receive from the congregation every two weeks (alofa/peleti).
“We will not touch other contributions made by the church. We believe those other contributions are for the development of the churches.”
“This will also exclude the money they get from funerals, weddings, and other things.” This is one of the issues that has caused a lot of criticism from Church members and Church Ministers.
Last month the nation’s biggest denomination, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S), rejected the said plan by the government.
The decision was reached during the Church’s annual conference.
A formal letter was to be presented to the government outlining the church’s objection and the rejection of the government’s plan was widely supported by the Church’s membership.
As reported earlier, Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi is supportive of the move to tax the Head of State and Church Ministers.
He said the review should have happened 20 years ago.
“They should’ve done this a long time ago,” said Tuilaepa. “That is why I am grateful to the Minister and his Ministry for coming up with this plan.”
Tuilaepa said the proposed change is not targeting any particular group.
“Tax money is extremely important to development, Tuilaepa said.
“As you know, these monies are for the development of our country. But we are not targeting a group of people.”