CCCS General Assembly to discuss “fate” of tax paying pastors

Congregational Christian Church Chairman, Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara, with Deputy Chairman Reverend Elder Tunumoso Iosia, and Reverend Lavilavi Soloi outside court this morning

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA, SAMOA –TUESDAY 5 FEBRUARY 2019: The General Assembly of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa in May this year will discuss the “fate” of the pastors who are paying income taxes to government despite the church’s stance on the issue.

“Those church ministers who are paying taxes, will be called, to come forward, and bring their witnesses, and any evidence they have they are paying taxes,” the Church Treasurer, Reverend Rimoni Wright, told Talamua today.

Eighteen church ministers appeared before Judge Fepuleai Roma this morning for failing to file salary and wage tax returns and failing to withhold tax from salary and wage income.

According to Reverend Wright, those pastors will be asked whether they are paying taxes or not.

“Those who opposed the church resolution of not to pay tax will face the consequences,” said Reverend Wright. He added that the only exception is the ministers who are employed by the church “like me.”

Reverend Wright denied reports that the church has issued final warnings to church ministers who are still paying taxes despite the church’s stance against the Tax Administration Act 2012.

“There is no such final warning; it was just a verbal reminder to ministers of the General Assembly’s Resolution that was passed against the Act.”

“The application is basically to suppress charges of failing to file salary and wage tax returns and failing to withhold tax from salary and wage income under Subsections 70 and 71 of the Tax Administration Act 2012.”

Facing charges are Reverend Fa’au’uga Mata’utia, Reverend Faraimo Tiitii, Reverend Fili Matalavea, Reverend Fuaao Fuimaono, Reverend Iese Uele, Reverend Pita Toleafoa, Reverend Seilala Luamanuvae, Reverend Siaosi Salesulu, Reverend Taise Ioapo, Reverend Lavilavi Soloi, Reverend Ioane Petaia,  Reverend Petaia Leavai, Reverend Poasa Toiaivao, Reverend Semikueva Faatoafe, the Church Chairman Reverend Elder Tautiaga Senara and the Deputy Chairman, Reverend Elder Tunumoso Iosia.

Judge Roma has adjourned the matter to 19 February for the Prosecutor to file a response to the application filed by the defence counsel.