Ministry will take ownership of imported vehicles for unpaid duty tax
The Ministry of Revenue and Customs (M.R.C.) will take ownership of imported vehicles that owe duty taxes after a certain period of time.
That is the gist of the Memorandum of Understanding the M.R.C. will sign with the Land Transport Authority.
The announcement was made by Minister for Ministry of Revenue and Customs, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt in Parliament as part of efforts to collect debts owed to the Ministry.
“In some cases of imported vehicles, individuals will bring in Members of Parliaments; Village Mayors and other businesses owners to sign the promissory note that if the individual fails to pay the duty tax, they will be liable.
“As soon as they get their vehicle, they forget about the balance of the duty tax and this adds to the uncollected revenue of the Ministry.”
Tialavea said this law was made specifically for families that import vehicles into the country.
“Under this scheme two guarantors are needed; the individual is required to pay 50 percent of the duty tax (which is 10 percent of the value of the car); and they are given three months to pay the remaining balance,” he said.
The Minister said after years of “abusing this scheme” the M.R.C. have opted to have the imported vehicle as the collateral for the agreement.
“Meaning, part of the agreement, the Ministry of Revenue and Customs will be added as a co-owner of the imported vehicle and that will possible under our M.O.U. with the L.T.A.
And that way the family will certainly return to pay off the balance within three months and if they cannot do that, we can turn around and sell the car,” explained Tialavea.
The family cannot sell the vehicle as the Customs would be co-owner.
“But we don’t want to do that, however will do what is necessary to collect taxes owed to the Samoa Government.”
Minister of L.T.A. Papali’i Niko Lee Hang, supports this initiative.
“This is long overdue, even I am a victim as I signed a promissory note for one family and the Customs came after me; but in going forward this is a good initiative to assure the revenues will be collected,” he told the Samoa Observer.
Papali’i said it is just a matter of time before the M.R.C. and L.T.A. formalizes this in the M.O.U.