Taxing church ministers should not have been an issue says PM

The entrance to the Congregational Christian Church headquarters at Malua

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA- THURSDAY 24 MAY 2018: The Prime Minister said today that the taxation of church ministers should not have been an issue at the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Annual General Conference – Fonotele currently in progress at the church headquarters at Malua.   

The conference rejected paying government taxes as one of very first issues tackled by the conference on Monday this week.

Tuilaepa told the government Radio 2AP today that the other churches never complained about the law that now taxes church ministers that came into force this year.

“The Act is passed and the implementation is in progress,” said Tuilaepa. “And there’s no Government under the sun that sets up a law then wait until someone or some people agree to it.”

He said the CCCS General Secretary, Reverend Vavatau wrote to him asking to postpone the passing of the Act and give the church 6 months to deliberate on the issue.

“I wrote back and told him the 6 months had already been given hence the delay in the implementation of the Act to January 2018,” said Tuilaepa.

He said he also advised the Secretary that whatever the church wishes to understand should be done within the 6 months given.

He then cited a case that involved two late ministers who served time in prison for murder. One actually committed the crime, and the other was dragged into the trial because he was a party to the offence.

“It is the same with this issue, because if it is the Secretary that is ill advising the Elders, then he two will be penalized,” said Tuilaepa.

After the Church decision on Monday to reject the law, the Ministry of Revenue made public announcements on TV and other media for church ministers to register under the law so they can pay taxes.

Tuilaepa said he asked the Secretary to give the church Elders sound advice and unless he too is behind the decision to reject, then he must also pay the price.

Talamua has been told that most of the dissatisfaction boils down to the lack of consultation as the church ministers were not happy when the Minister of Revenue told Parliament that taxing church ministers has been widely supported by the churches.

The CCCS General Conference ends tomorrow.

 

 

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