Samoan Chruch Tax Stoush Escalates

July 18, 2018 Taxation in Samoa

Church tax in SamoaAPIA – Samoa’s biggest church continues to deny that its ministers should be taxed, and now the church is even refusing to talk about the topic.

The ongoing battle between the government of Samoa and the nation’s biggest church, the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa, has taken another turn, as the church appears to have refused to talk about the matter until next year.

Earlier this year the government enacted a new law which would require church ministers to register to pay income tax, and to pay the tax on the money they receive while carrying out their duties.

The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa contests that the money that ministers receive is all in the form of donation and shouldn’t be taxed, and, further, the thought of taxing the donations is an affront to their faith.

The tension on the topic has not abated, as the government continues to insist on the tax being paid, while the church has maintained that it will not.

Last week the government warned the church that it has the power to seize assets and bank accounts if taxes are not paid.

Now the General Secretary of the Church, Vavatau Tauao, has stated that elders from the church will stop responding to the government on the topic entirely.

He added that the next discussion on the topic among church elders would be at the next annual conference of the church, which would be held in May 2019.

Currently, the government has extended its deadline for registration from June 30th to July 31st.

Not all churches in Samoa are opposing the tax, with the Samoan Methodist church stating emphatically that they agree with the move, and that many of their Ministers had signed up to pay tax even before the measure was fully enacted.