Some C.C.C.S. Ministers already paying taxes - Tialavea

More than ten Ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) are already paying taxes on the alofa (love offering) they receive from their congregations.

This was confirmed by the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, during an interview with the Weekend Observer on Friday.

His Associate Minister, Lenata’i Victor Tamapua, was present during the interview.

“I can only confirm there are Church Ministers (of the C.C.C.S.) who are already paying taxes,” Tialavea said.

The Minister, however, declined to confirm the official number of Ministers, or reveal their identities, although the Weekend Observer understands that 18 Church Ministers have already registered their Pay as you Earn (PAYE) and have started paying.

The claim from the Minister comes as the battle between the Government and the biggest denomination over the issue of Church Ministers paying taxes on their alofa continues in Court.

At the end of the Malua Fono Tele last year, the C.C.C.S. announced its official opposition to the law and made it clear that no Minister of their denomination would pay taxes.

Attempts to get a comment from the Secretary General of the Church, Revered Vavatau Taufao, were unsuccessful.

But Minister Tialavea used the opportunity during the interview to warn the Elders of the C.C.C.S. should they decide to take disciplinary action against the Ministers who are already paying taxes.

The Minister said there are general concerns that the church’s leadership will find out the Ministers involved and they could be reprimanded.

“They (the church) has been warned,” Tialavea said. “They cannot do that.”

According to an official from within the Ministry of Revenue, a total of 18 C.C.C.S. Church Ministers are already paying taxes. There are more than 200 Ministers in the Church.

“Again, they (CCCS) have been warned they cannot reprimand any Church Ministers for paying taxes,” said Tialavea.

The Minister made it clear that it is illegal under the Crimes Act 2013 to reprimand Church Ministers for paying their taxes.

Tialavea was referring to section 33 and 141 of the Crimes Act 2013, which reads:

“33 Parties to offences – (1) A person is a party to and guilty of an offence who:

(a) actually commits the offence; or

(b) does or omits an act for the purpose of aiding any person to commit the offence; or

(c) abets any person in the commission of the offence; or

(d) incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit the offence.

(2) Where 2 or more persons form a common intention to carry into effect any unlawful purpose and to assist each other in that object, each of them is a party to every offence committed by any one of them in carrying into effect that unlawful purpose if the commission of that offence was or ought to have been known to be a probable consequence of carrying into effect that common purpose.

(3) Nothing in this section prevents the charging of a person as a party to any offence under both subsections (1) and (2) or in the alternative.

“141 of the crimes act and Conspiring to defeat justice – A person is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who conspires or attempts to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in any cause or matter, civil or criminal.”

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