Coin Save investigation continues
The Audit investigation launched into the Coin Save chain of stores prompted by a Samoa Observer investigation is ongoing, the Minister for Customs and Revenue has confirmed.
A two-week investigation by the Samoa Observer established that the stores had been issuing year-old receipts across its Vaitele and Fugalei branches on different days. The Customs and Revenue Commissioner, Matafeo Avalisa Viali-Fautua, said the practice can be a hallmark of tax evasion.
The Minister for Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tinisio Hunt, in an interview with the Samoa Observer confirmed that the investigation, launched by a Samoa Observer story published on November, was yet to reach its conclusion.
“The audit is ongoing and these things take time. It is not done overnight,” said the Minister.
The Samoa Observer contacted the owner of the Coin Save, Tu'itu'ioaiga Teeking Weng on his cell phone, has visited his compound and left messages, but to date there has been no response.
The Customs Commissioner at the time thanked the Samoa Observer “for reporting this matter and [this can] certainly [be one of the] deliberate dirty ways [...] such business owners [use] to evade paying the right amount of taxes,".
"This practice would result in under reporting of income of the exact date of sale as it is now been stored in the date of receipt".
Matafeo then, in an email, ordered her subordinates - the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Internal Revenue Services) and Assistant C.E.O. of Audit to perform an immediate spot check audit at the stores in question.
“[The audit will cover this] practice and act accordingly to reassess any tax liability if a discrepancy and offence is confirmed,” said Matafeo.
At the Coin Save in Vaitele, the manager of the branch, Salaevalu Tanielu, told the Samoa Observer there is an error with their cash register machines.
When Ms. Tanielu was asked why it was not just her store producing outdated receipts she replied that the company's I.T. staff would be working on it.
She was not able to answer when asked if the company was seeking to avoid paying the right amount of value added goods and services tax (V.A.G.S.T.).
But the night before the story was published but after Customs and Revenue had been contacted by the Samoa Observer, the Vaitele branch of the store implemented a new receipt format, which now had the accurate date for purchases but no longer identified sales clerks, store locations or included V.A.G.S.T. amounts.