Ministry of Revenue deducting pastors’ taxes directly from their bank accounts

By Rula Su’a – Vaai

APIA, SAMOA – FRIDAY 05 OCTOBER 2018:  The Ministry of Revenue is deducting overdue pastors’ income taxes directly from the pastors’ bank accounts.

A Congregational Christian Church pastor told his congregation last Sunday that the bank has deducted $5,000 talā from his bank account to pay for his taxes to the government.

Local banks told Talamua that information on the matter is confidential and refrain from giving any details.

The Ministry of Revenue had been issuing notices after some of the pastors failed to register with the Ministry by the deadline on 15 July 2018.

Targeted are the Congregational Christian Church pastors as the Church’s General Assembly last May voted to stand by its decision not to pay government taxes. The standoff with government has intensified since as the church insists only the General Assembly can change the decision.

Church members during last Mays ‘General Assembly at the church headquarters at Malua

A delegation of the church pastors led by the Chairman and Executive, met with the Prime Minister last June and the rift has grown further with Government insisting the church adhere to the law and pay income taxes while the church is holding its position.

Only a few ministers of the Congregational Church of Samoa have registered with the Ministry of Revenue while the majority are adhering to the church decision.

The Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt is adamant to use the full power of the law and told the media recently that the Ministry will look at the church ministers’ assets if they insist on not paying taxes.

The new tax law requires those who earn an annual salary of $15,000 talā and upwards to pay income tax and those earning less are exempted.

Talamua’s emails to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Revenue for comment were yet to be answered as of press time.

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