Govt. moves to collect taxes from Church Ministers
The Ministry of Revenue is moving to implement the new law, which requires church ministers and the Head of State to pay taxes.
It is collecting the personal details of church pastors in preparation for a seminar to discuss the next stage of how the law will be implemented.
The information is being collected through forms distributed to pastors throughout the country.The form is labeled as “Form for collecting information for a special seminar for church ministers Samoa 2017”
In July, the former Head of State signed into law, the bill which legalised the taxing of church ministers and the Head of State.
This is the first time this has been done since Samoa became independent 55 years ago.
The bill was signed on 30 June 2017 three days after it was approved by Parliament.
Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt told Samoa Observer that only a few did not support the bill.
“The biggest challenge was facing the church ministers,” said Tialavea.
“I had to face them. After all the move to levy taxes against the church ministers and Head of State was my idea, not the government’s,” he said.
The General Secretary of the N.C.C.C., Rev Ma’auga Motu in a previous interview with the Samoa Observer said that they hadn’t received any guiding principles on how to tax pastors in the country.
“There’s nothing much to say.” Rev. Ma’auga said.
“As you all know the government is going on with their plan to tax pastors. We have had a meeting and it’s now up to each denomination (on how to deduct taxes from their pastors) according to the bill that has just been passed.
“For now, the C.C.C.S. has rejected the plan. We haven’t heard from the Methodist Church and I think the majority of churches in Samoa rejected it (tax) as well, except for the Catholic church.”
Even though the Methodist Church declared it had rejected the proposal to tax pastors, they are now resigned to the fact that there is little that can be done about the new law.
This confirmation came from the President of the Methodist Church. Rev Apineru Lafai durig the church conference this year.
“All employees of the Methodist Church are paying taxes except for those who are called to serve in the church congregations (pastors).” Rev. Lafai said.
“As of today, we haven’t heard from anyone (government) of what’s happening now, and when we will be affected."
“We’ve already talked with the government in relation to the plan that our church rejected the plan but who can go beyond government?"
“We follow what the government has planned."