Church's proposed bank will not stop Govt. tax collection

A proposal for the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) to set up its own bank in a bid to stop the Government from accessing accounts of Church Ministers will not protect them.

The proposal to set up a bank was made by two districts, Fa’asaleleaga and Aleipata, and submitted before the General Assembly during the church’s recent annual conference at Malua.

A copy of the proposal said one of the reasons is to stop the Government from seizing monies from the Minister’s accounts, as they have already done in connection to the new law to tax Church Ministers.

The Church has deferred the discussion of the matter until next year.

But the Commissioner for Revenue, Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautua’alii, told the Samoa Observer that the Tax Administration Act 2012 provides the authority for the Commissioner to access records with any financial entity.

This means that even if the church sets up its own bank, the Government will still be able to access the accounts.

“The law applies to any commercial bank institution that holds an account for a taxpayer,” she said.  

Matafeo explained that the principal functions of the Inland Revenue Services of the Ministry for Revenue is to efficiently collect the correct revenue due to the state.

They also exist to administer the taxation system in a way to encourage compliance from all taxpayers in Samoa.

The Income Tax Act 2012 and the Tax Administration Act 2012 make provisions on the application of different tax types in Samoa and cover all tax-related matters.

According to the Commissioner, under section 61 of the Tax Administration Act 2012, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue can collect tax from a third party.

“Section 61 applies if a taxpayer is or will become liable to pay tax and the tax has not been paid by the due date.

“Similarly, if the Commissioner has reasonable grounds to believe that the tax will not be paid by the due date for payment, collection from third party allows the Ministry to ensure that the tax payable is recovered under this section.”

She said once the tax is not paid on due date, the Commissioner may issue a written notice to the “payer” usually a bank, on the amount of unpaid tax; the due date for payment of the amount owing under the notice.

“A statement that if unable to comply with the notice, the payer must notify the Commissioner in writing, within 14 working days from receipt of delivery, setting out reasons for inability to comply; and a statement that if unable to comply with the notice without reasonable cause the payer will be personally liable for the amount specified in the notice.”

Matafeo explained the notice issued is also served onto the taxpayer.

Thirty nine Ministers of the C.C.C.S. currently face tax related charges in Court.

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