Ministry rejects "drastic" action against church ministers

The Ministry of Customs and Revenue (M.C.R.) has denied it is “taking drastic and forceful enforcement actions” against church ministers who have previously faced charges for not paying tax.

“The [Ministry] are currently sending out media and mail reminder notices to all its customers of the various annual licenses administered by the M.C.R. [...] and various tax returns that are due to file and pay within March 2021 or by 31 March 2021,” it said in a statement on Wednesday. 

The public notice claims some media sources are providing false information against the M.C.R., which previously pursued members of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) for refusing to pay taxes.

“Unfortunately for the Ministry, it has been brought to our attention that some media sources are providing false information about the Ministry taking drastic and forceful enforcement actions on some of our customers, namely the Ministers of Religion since the beginning of this month,” the statement says. 

“The Ministry of Customs and Revenue wishes to inform members of the public that no such enforcement actions are being executed by the Ministry apart from our normal reminder notices as advised above. 

“Therefore, the public is kindly encouraged to refrain from indulging false information provided by unfounded claims and misguided information that are made available on media to purposely confuse and distort ongoing work carried out by your Ministry.” 

“These are normal reminder actions from our Ministry during the first few months or every year up to end of April given our role as the major revenue collecting agency of the Government. 

Tax charges were dismissed against two separate groups of C.C.C.S. Ministers in 2019.

The issue has recently taken on political dimensions ahead of the forthcoming election.

The Faatuatua i le Atua Samoa Ua Tasi (F.A.S.T.) political party’s platform opposes the policy. 

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