Church reps meet with P.M. to discuss tax policy

National Council of Churches members and the Congregational Christian Church (CCCS) of Samoa chairman Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara met with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr Sailele Malielegaoi recently to discuss the Government’s controversial tax policy targeting church ministers. 

The Prime Minister confirmed the meeting in his weekly media conference recently. 

“We must let the law take its course now that the matter is before the Court,” he said, in reference to 20 church ministers from the CCCS who were charged for not filing their tax returns and are now in Court. 

He said those who attended the meeting included NCC Chairman, Kasiano Leaupepe, Reverend Aisoli Iuli, Reverend Elder Tautiaga and Deacons from the CCCS.

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“It was a productive meeting and they requested for assistance from the Government regarding the issue on taxes. I am thankful to the chairman for considering meeting with the Government, to discuss the issues and resolve matters.” 

He said the last time the Government was in contact with the church was through correspondence. 

“And after the Government’s response, there was no word or meeting with the church."

“However it appeared that the interchange was done publicly through the Samoa Observer with the Secretary General (Reverend Vavatau Taufao).” 

“The matter is now before the Court and the government’s hands are tied. I think this is the appropriate to handle this matter,” he added. 

Tuilaepa acknowledged the move by the church to meet with the Government and described it as a “positive step”.

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