The Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has set the record straight in relation to taxing Church Ministers.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer yesterday, he clarified that Church Ministers will only be taxed for their “alofa” (money they earn from church members).
He said they would not be taxed on envelopes and gifts they receive from weddings, funerals and other occasions.
“Although it’s in the law that it extends to other income received from performing services in their role as church ministers, from weddings, funerals, birthdays, functions or blessing ceremonies, we will only tax the church ministers based on their alofa,” he said.
“So we are taxing only the salaries. It’s in the law, but we will only tax them on their alofa, nothing more.”
The clarification will come as music to the ears of pastors who have been outraged by the decision to tax their envelopes.
Many church Ministers accused the government of deceiving them. They made the claim when they discovered that the Bill was not limited to the “alofa.”
“I feel deceived by the Samoa Government,” said one Pastor.
“The amendment to the law extends to other income received from performing services in our roles as church ministers.
“I am sad because we were not informed about this during the public meetings.
“Under Income Tax Act 2012 3. Section 61 amended clearly indicates that it is not limited to the contributions from the churches.
“The law extends to income received from performing services in their role as church ministers.
“During the consultations, all the Ministry of Revenue went after was the alofa but to my surprise, someone came across the new amendment and pointed it out to me.
“Why were the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt and his Associate Minister, So’oalo Mene, not honest from the beginning about this hidden amendment?
“So aside from the alofa, they now want to tax us on our other incomes that we receive when conducting service prayers for functions, weddings and funerals,” said the furious Church Minister.
The Church Minister said the unfairness of the decision by the government was keeping them in the dark about taxing all income they receive from their roles as church ministers.
“All right that’s fine but I think the government should also look at taxing the cash envelopes the Cabinet Ministers receive from any event they attend.
“It is only fair that if they desperately need money as indicated by their measures put in place to obtain more funding, they too should also be taxed when they receive their cash envelopes.”
INCOME TAX AMENDMENT BILL 2017 3. Section 61 amended – In section 61 of the principal Act: (a) in subsection (1), after paragraph (f), substitute “full stop” with “semi colon” and insert –
“(g) income of minister of religion.”; (b) after subsection (9), insert: “(10) For the purposes of this section, the income of a minister of religion whose sole occupation is the spiritual guidance of a specific congregation in Samoa is comprised of:
(a) contributions made by members of the congregation, and
(b) income received from performing services in their role as church ministers.”