Public split on Govt. tax policy against ministers
“The controversy behind the Government’s decision to tax church ministers has been a topical issue this year. Recently, Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, confirmed that eight church ministers of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.) have been charged for not filing their tax returns and more will be charged in the coming weeks. Reporter Soli Wilson talks to members of the public to get their views on the issue.
Kasandra Laufili, 36, Saleimoa
In my opinion on this matter, the Government has already passed the law therefore we must all abide to it. One of the reasons why is because once they retire from the villages they served in, they are entitled to pension just like everyone else. Where is the pension from? The Government. Yes, pastors have never paid taxes but there will always be changes. Each generation comes with their changes. Nothing stays the same. Although the Government should depend their taxes on many factors, like the number of people in each church and how often they give, because some churches give weekly while some give fortnightly.
Vitale Muaimalae, 42, Vaiusu
We’ve always said that the pastors are the messengers of God and believed that they deserve our respect, just like how we respect God. This is why I strongly disagree with the charging of pastors because of this tax issue. The pastor’s main job is saving spirits and guiding the people on the righteous path. Without them, who else will be guiding our people? We should stick to what we’ve been doing since the beginning. No taxes for the pastors.
Tasi Funa’i, 30, Fausaga
In my opinion, no one is above the law. We should abide by Government laws just like how we abide by God’s commandments. I feel for the pastors but nothing can be done now that the law has already been passed with penalties already in place. I think the pastors should obey the Government’s tax laws as a way for them to contribute to our economy.
Leoo Mailei Amosa, 66, Satapuala
I strongly believe that this is very inappropriate due to the fact that the people the Government is charging are pastors. A pastor’s duty is to deliver the word of life and messages of God to the people of Samoa. This fact alone makes the Government’s actions wrong in my own opinion, because the pastors are not in the villages to look for money, but rather serve the peoples’ spiritual lives.
Telesia Poleta, 40, Faleasiu
I disagree with this law taxing pastors. Pastors shouldn’t be taxed as they are the Lord’s servants. In my own opinion, this is very unfitting especially as the servants of God, they shouldn’t be taxed. These are the people who are out in the villages conveying the messages of God and promoting peace. The money they get from their ‘alofa’ is a contribution out of the peoples’ love for their pastor.
Pati Olene, 41, Nuu-fou
This matter is such a broad matter and so many people are unhappy about it. But I heard someone say that if the pastors don’t pay taxes, then they aren’t contributing to the economy of Samoa and this is something I agree with completely. I don’t agree with the tax idea completely, but since some of the pastors already agreed, I guess all the pastors should be involved also. This matter should really be dealt with properly, because it’s getting ugly with these charges pressed on the pastors.