$61.6 million outstanding taxes: accounts report

Taxes that are yet to be paid to the Ministry of Customs and Revenue totals $61.6 million tala, states the 2018-2019 Public Account report.

The same figure was initially quoted in the 2017-2018 Public Account report and was highlighted again in the Public Account report for 2018-1019, which was submitted to the Parliament in February this year by the Minister of Finance Sili Epa Tuioti.

“Taxpayers Arrears amount of $61,679,565.48 which was reported in the Public Account 2017-2018 has been restated in this Public Account 2018-2019 to await confirmation from the Ministry for Revenue,” states the Public Account report.

According to the report, $61.6 million is yet to be accounted for in the Government's financial system, Finance One as the Ministry of Customs and Revenue is yet to provide an audited figure.

Samoa Observer has sought comments from the M.C.R. Commissioner Matafeo Avalisa Viali Fautuali’i via email and is yet to get a response.

Last year the Minister of Customs and Revenue, Tialavea Tinisio Hunt, said taxes owed by the business community to the Government had dropped from $100 million to $70 million tala.

“Three years ago (2016) the outstanding debts of uncollected taxes amounted to $100 million plus," he said. "Fast forward to now it has reduced 30 per cent. These are the taxes owed by the business community and we are doing everything we can to collect it."

“Included in the collections are some of the unpaid taxes from the previous years. 

“This is the most hated profession there is in the world, tax collectors but the staff strive to meet the goals of the Ministry.”

For the financial years 2017-2018, the Ministry’s Customs Division collected $326.4 million while Inland Revenue recorded $176.6 million in revenue respectively.

In July this year the M.C.R. celebrated two consecutive years of exceeding its revenue collection goals. 

And in acknowledging the challenges, the Ministry says the continued defiance of some Church Ministers on non-payment of taxes presented a challenge for them.

The set target for revenue collection for the 2019-2020 Financial Year was $527.7 million with the Ministry taking $551 million. 

The Ministry’s performance also saw the recording of a surplus of $1.5 million for June 2020.

“As a result, the revenue collection year to date registered an excess of $23.6 million compared to a surplus of $21.5 million in the same period in FY 2018/19," added the M.C.R. statement.

In addition to the revenue increase, the Ministry also celebrated the launch of the new Tax Invoice Monitoring System, and the various seizure of currency and illegal goods as well as major projects including the X-Ray scanner as part of the Samoa Port Redevelopment Project.

A statement issued by the Ministry said that this most recent financial year had presented a range of challenges and opportunities.

“The Ministry maintained focus and remained steadfast to our values and principles as the basis of our operations and at the same time, observed the statutory obligations in upholding the integrity of all laws in which it administered as a customs and tax administration,” the statement said.

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