I won’t write-off unpaid taxes, says Minister Tialavea

Minister for Revenue Tialavea Tionisio Hunt has vowed not to write-off taxes owed by private companies, which has accumulated to over $80 million.

In an interview with the Samoa Observer, Tialavea said his Ministry still intends to go after the debtors and a write-off will not happen under his watch. 

 “So long as I am Minister for Revenue, the write-off will never happen. We will still continue to collect outstanding taxes of which has been accumulated to more than $80 million from the business community,” he said.

In October this year this newspaper published the findings of the Public Account Management Audit report for 2014-2015 financial years, which indicated that the Ministry of Revenue had an outstanding debt of $87.6 million. The same debt was disclosed by the Ministry of Finance a year later, as part of the Government’s response to the Parliament’s Finance and Expenditure Committee’s Report, for the financial years 2015-2016.

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Throwing more light on the issue, the Minister said there are a list of businesses in Samoa that owe the Government unpaid taxes. 

“There is a list of the businesses that owes the Government taxes and I am not at liberty to discuss it as I don’t know. 

“Under the law, the Minister does not have access to that type of information—this is due to previous incidents where Ministers have interfered—hence the Government amending the law to what it is today,” he said. 

According to Tialavea, there was disquiet amongst certain members of the business community and a push to write-off the unpaid taxes, when this newspaper published reports in October this year on the outstanding $87.6 million debt at the Ministry of Revenue.  

“I said no! That will never happen while I am Minister for Revenue. The last time there was a write-off of unpaid taxes for the business community was back in 2005, so I understand the accumulation of the unpaid taxes started in 2006 hence it’s more than $80 million. 

“To date our collection officers are out there collecting and I have given them direct orders to go after the businesses that owe from back in 2006,” he added.

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