Senior C.C.C.S. Minister tells: Why I’m paying my taxes
A senior Minister of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.), who has defied the position of the church in relation to paying taxes on the alofa, is adamant he is doing the right thing.
The Church Minister, who spoke to the Samoa Observer on the condition that he is not identified, said the matter is very sensitive and while he does not want to offend the C.C.C.S. Elders Committee, he believes he has a duty to pay taxes.
“What I am doing is the right move in my view. This is a very delicate issue and at the same time I don’t want to hurt the church in any manner,” he said.
“I think it is just a lack of understanding (on the part of the church) about the importance of paying taxes and contributing to the development of one’s country.”
The Church Minister is one of 18 C.C.C.S. Ministers who are already paying taxes. The Ministry of Revenue confirmed this last week.
Their decision is likely to put them at odds with the C.C.C.S. Elders Committee who resolved last year not to obey the Government’s law for them to pay taxes.
To date, 20 C.C.C.S. Church Ministers have been charged by the Ministry of Revenue for failure to pay taxes.
The matter is pending before Court.
During the interview with the senior Church Minister, he said it is not new for Pastors to pay taxes. He said this was done in the 1970s under the Tariffs Act 1976.
“So this is nothing new,” he said. “We all benefit from the government’s developments hence paying taxes is vital in any country.
“The C.C.C.S. during the General Conference went against the paying of taxes at the time it was in the proposed stages back in May, 2018.
“However in June of the same year, the law was passed. And like any church, these issues are discussed during the general conference. So we are waiting for the general conference next month to see the next step.”
The Minister added that “as soon as the law was passed I paid my taxes.”
Asked if he was not afraid of the likely consequences from the Church’s mother body, the Minister who has served the church for more than 30 years, said he is prepared for anything.
“I am well aware of the consequences and I am ready for anything from the Church,” he said.
Asked if his congregation members know about his decision, he said: “The church members know; some of them work in the government and they agree. But I am not sure about the members who have not said anything.
“I am not sure what their personal opinion is. And this is an issue that I don’t want to involve my church. Paying taxes is my personal view. I don’t want to say that this is what my church wants.”
Last week, the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed that a number of C.C.C.S. Church Ministers are already paying their taxes.
He also warned Elders of the C.C.C.S. should they decide to take disciplinary action against them.
The Minister said there are general concerns that the church’s leadership will find out the Ministers involved and they could be reprimanded.
Tialavea congratulated the C.C.C.S. Ministers who are already paying taxes.
“Even the Head of State is paying taxes and this is all for the development of our country,” Tialavea said.
“Who benefits in the end? Our people and our country.”
“This is very encouraging to know there are members of the C.C.C.S. that understand the bigger picture.”
He confirmed that as of yesterday, the Government has collected more than a $100,000 from Church Ministers taxes, including the other denominations.
“This includes the funding of the C.C.C.S. whom we have seized their money directly from their bank accounts.”
Repeated attempts to get a comment from the C.C.C.S. have been unsuccessful.