A taxable income for the faifeau has its benefits and that potential should not be overlooked, says a senior member of the Alamagoto E.F.K.S Parish.
Lay preacher Leta’a Tanielu Devoe – who says he represents a significant number of C.C.C.S church members who do not support the order from Church elders instructing faifeau not to register as tax paying individuals – made a proposal that he said will ultimately benefit the faifeau and his faletua.
He said he supports the autonomy of a faifeau and his faletua to make that decision for them selves in conjunction with the support of their village church.
In an interview with Samoa Observer, Leta’a put forward a proposal which he said was supported by his parish in Alamagoto due to the long term savings benefits for their Faifeau.
“I suggested to my church (since the agreement is between the village and the Faifeau and his faletua) the Alofa for the Faifeau and his wife should be split 60/40 and on that they should pay tax as well as N.P.F and A.C.C. combined their tax will be reduced.
“Our village church as their employers will pay the 7 per cent on both their incomes as well as 1 per cent each for A.C.C and N.P.F and because that is the law.”
Leta’a, who is also a senior member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Samoa, points out that in the long term, the financial benefits to reward the faifeau and his faletua in their retirement, far outweighs the current standoff between the Government and the church.
“There are benefits to that because they will have saved for their retirement for the compulsory scheme during their work life.
“Not just the faifeau but also his faletua. Also if anything should happen to them they will be covered under A.C.C. and there are benefits in that.
“When our church met – they all supported that. Unfortunately, now that there has been a decree from the elders to the faifeaus not to pay tax or to even register. This is my concern and I know a lot of people do not support this move by the elders,” he said.
As an active member of his church who supports his faifeau and the faletua, Leta’a said that this decision by the Church Elders is causing frustration amongst members, who not only feel misrepresented but also concerned for their faifeau.
“The law is the law. They are actually encouraging the faifeaus to break the law yet they preach about integrity and honesty from the pulpit. Is that a good example for the church?”
“The other issue it’s the faifeau that’s going to suffer the consequences because the government is going to go after the faifeau not the mainline church. This is why I want to speak out.”
According to Leta’a, there is a significant number of church members who are frustrated with the stance of the church on payment of taxes which does not reflect everyone’s position on the matter.
He added that the taxes from the faifeau and his faletuas’ income should be seen as a contribution to the good of all.
“The faifeaus have had it good for so long and everyone is paying tax.
“But their taxes will contribute to public amenities such as good roads, health service, policing, all the government ministries, water,” he added.
Leta’a also does not see the logic in the argument that faifeaus being taxed overseas, at least receive a rebate at the end of the financial year, as being relevant to Samoa.
“The administration of taxes in Samoa is the best one that suits this country. Everyone pays as they earn, there are no rebates or funds because it’s going to cost extra workforce.”
The tax rates have already been set so if you pay your taxes as per the correct rate, there will be no tax refund. For them to say that people have already been taxed for the money that they are giving to the faifeaus. Let me give you an example: I’m taxed when I earn does that mean that when I go to buy something from the shop I will be exempt from paying VAGST?”
On an income of $1200 Tala per week for a Faifeau, Leta’a points out that after 20 years of work on that amount along, the faifeau will have saved $87,000 Tala in his N.P.F for his retirement. On top of that a $87,000 contribution from the parish, which will give the total NPF accumulated over 20 years of $174,000 not including interest earned over the term of their investment.