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Church stands firm on its position on tax

The decision by some Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) Ministers to pay their taxes is their own.

It doesn’t change the Church’s position on the matter.

That is the response from the Secretary of the National Council of Churches (N.C.C.) Reverend Mauga Motu, who is also a senior Minister of C.C.C.S.

Speaking to the Sunday Samoan, Rev. Motu, said the latest development is another layer of a matter that is already complex and sensitive.

“I personally feel they did that based on their own freewill and their own individual beliefs,” he said.

“That is their personal view that they feel they have to (pay tax) but it does not affect the status of the church on the issue.

“That is how I see it but I do not want to go deep into it because everyone is entitled to their own opinion. That is their position as individuals on the matter.”

Asked about concerns that the church ministers who have registered to pay tax could be reprimanded and disciplined by the General Assembly, Rev. Motu said he was not aware of anything like that.

“I have not been told of any discussion like that for those church ministers,” he assured.

“Everything in relation to that I guess will be known during the next General Assembly in May.”

Asked if he was paying the tax in the middle of church and Government stand off, Rev. Motu said no.

Asked if he is worried that not paying tax might affect his position as the Secretary of N.C.C., he said: “I am not responsible for that.”

Three weeks ago, the Government confirmed that close to 20 C.C.C.S. Ministers are already paying taxes, contrary to the Church’s official position on the law.

One of them told the Samoa Observer it is his duty to do so.

Speaking to the condition of anonymity the church minister said paying tax is the right thing to do.

“What I am doing is the right move in my view,” he said.

“This is a very delicate issue and at the same time I don’t want to hurt the church in any manner.

“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 among 18 who are already paying their taxes despite the position of their general assembly.

Meanwhile, there are 20 church ministers facing four tax related charges each before the District Court.

All of the 20 church ministers have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are scheduled to be in Court for hearing on the July 1, 2019.

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