A church body in Samoa rejected the government’s new law that requires church ministers to pay income tax.
The Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (CCCS) is the governing body in all matters about the church in the country. During its Annual General Conference in a small village in Malua, church leaders discussed the new tax law implemented earlier this year.
One senior minister warned that the taxation of the church is the beginning of the “downfall” of the Samoan government.
They argued that pastors shouldn’t be taxed for what they receive from their congregations since they are voluntary donations. The group also criticized the government for meddling with the church’s internal affairs, reports Radio New Zealand.
One senior minister warned that the taxation of the church is the beginning of the “downfall” of the Samoan government. During the debate, some members suggested that there should be a fixed amount of tax that the church must pay the government, while others said it is better for pastors to be the one paying taxes instead of the church.
Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the CCCS shouldn’t make an issue out of the government’s tax law. He explained that when any government, not just Samoan, passes a law, it doesn’t wait for its citizens to agree with the new law.
The people’s opposition is not likely to derail the decision of the government. The Prime Minister added that other churches in Samoa didn’t disagree with the law taxing all church ministers.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the National Council of Churches, Deacon Leaupepe Kasiano Leaupepe, didn’t want to join the ongoing tax saga between the CCCS and the government, reports Samoa Observer.
Leaupepe said everyone is entitled to his or her own response to the tax law. He said the CCCS has already decided on the issue and he is not going to intervene with them. “I have no power over the church’s decision about the law.”
It is still not confirmed if the CCCS would require its ministers to refuse paying taxes. The Prime Minister maintained that the law will be implemented and those who refuse to abide will face consequences.