Chairman urges businesses to bank cash
The newly-elected Chairman of the Samoa Bankers Association, Bernie Poort, has urged the business community to bank surplus cash to avoid being targeted by criminals.
He said Samoa was facing the challenges that come hand-in-hand with a “cash economy”.
“Everyone that holds cash is not necessary trying to avoid paying taxes; but they use to pay vendors," he said.
“The safest thing to do with surplus cash that you don’t need is to put it in the bank.
“But I get why some people don’t like putting it in the bank because it's then subject to being declared as an income for the businesses; but if you don’t put it in the bank you run the risk of being robbed".
Last year, the Ministry for Customs and Revenue launched a crackdown on businesses that store their profits in vaults, or on their premises, instead of bank accounts to target those suspected of evading taxes.
The Minister for Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, who believes when large amounts of cash are not banked that is usually done to “avoid paying taxes”.
“In response the Ministry has launched an investigation into the businesses that have inactive bank accounts,” Tialavea said.
The Minister's comments came after a violent robbery in Vaitele where stash of money was uncovered by the Police in the warehouse where a Chinese national was killed during the robbery.
But the attack is the latest in a string of robberies where individuals with large amounts of cash on their person or premises have been the target of thieves.
“I suspect the reason behind not banking this large amount of cash is tax evasion. There are certain businesses that purchase their stock using cash and that should be stopped. I believe the businesses should be mandatory to purchase their stocks using checks to assure their monies are banked,” the Minister said.
The Minister said they are going through Revenue laws to determine whether amendments should be made to make it mandatory for businesses to use cheques instead of cash.
However, Mr. Poort said that is not the case.
“But not [everyone] is avoiding tax [for] some people it's just how they buy stock and pay cash; so it does not necessarily mean they are avoiding [paying] taxes. But if you got cash, put it in the bank,” he said.