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ASG forecasts 46 Million tax revenue for FY2012

Individual income tax tops list
fili@samoanews.com

The American Samoa government is forecasting over $46 million in taxes to be collected in fiscal year 2012, with the highest amount to come from individual income tax, according to the FY 2012 budget bill introduced in the House last Friday, where the House leadership announced joint Fono budget hearings, expected to begin next week.

Introduction of the FY 2012 budget is slated for this week in the Senate.

Of the total $67.13 million in local revenue projected for the FY 2012 budget, ASG is forecasting $46.5 million in total tax revenues, with the highest projection — $18 million — in individual income tax; followed by $17 million in excise tax; $8.5 million in corporate tax; $2 million for soda tax and $1 million military cover-over tax.

For comparison purposes, $47.31 million was budgeted for FY 2011 with the highest income at $17.41 million for individual income tax, $17 million for excise tax, and $10 million for corporate tax.

Lawmakers are expected to question ASG Treasurer Magalei Logovi’i and Budget Office and Planning director Malemo Tausaga for an explanation on how they came up with the FY 2012 projections as compared to the current fiscal year.

According to information included in the budget bill, ASG did well in tax collections during fiscal year 2010 with “actual tax” collection at a high of $55.08 million with $20.01 million for individual income taxes; $19.75 million in excise tax; $12.06 million in corporate tax; $1.99 million for soda tax and $1.25 million in cover-over tax.

Government officials say that this major increase in tax collection for FY 2010 is attributed to federal funds and other revenue sources that flowed into the territory following the Sept. 29, 2009 tsunami — along with new federal stimulus money — which provided many with temporary employment.

Other ASG revenue forecasts for FY 2012 include $1 million for licenses and permits; $2.50 million for fees and fines; $5 million in “charges for services” (which includes $3 million in Port Administration charges; rents and leases’ and sports complex); $1.09 million for “miscellaneous” (which covers interest income and ‘others’); $6.30 million for ‘total indirect costs’; and $4.74 million for ‘total transfers-in’ (which includes JROTC reimbursement on federal grants); school repair account, communications to debt service and debt service fund.

Fono staffers say lawmakers will seek more information on “miscellaneous” tax revenue; and total indirect costs.

The budget bill provides a few interesting funding allocations that lawmakers are expected to question during budget hearings later this month.

For example, $50,000 each for Constitutional Convention (which was allocated $200,000 in FY 2011) and Customs’ Annual Conference; and $50,000 for the tsunami memorial — which Samoa News understands is for the project that broke ground last September to mark the one-year anniversary of the September 2009 earthquake and tsunami that killed 34 people in the territory.

Under the FY 2012, the Board of Tradesman examiners and the stray dog eradication program are not getting any money in the new fiscal year.

BUDGET HEARINGS

Once the budget bill was introduced in the House last Friday, House Speaker Savali Talavou Ale told House members that to ensure sufficient time is dedicated to reviewing the FY 2012 budget, the Fono leadership and the respective budget committees of the Senate and House have agreed to hold joint budget hearings.

Savali said the Fono has one whole month and a couple of weeks to conduct hearings on the proposed budget of more than $140 million; and for the budget committee to seek all necessary information required for the hearings to be submitted in advance or when directors appear for their respective hearings.

Although ASPA claims its budget requires only the ASPA board approval, Savali said the Fono would still review the Authority’s budget.

He asked lawmakers to fully review the entire FY 2012 budget before hearings get underway.

Rep. Larry Sanitoa said the federal government is faced with its own financial constraints and it would be appropriate for the Fono to find out what impact that will have on federal funds allocated in FY 2012 for the territory. Savali agreed with the suggestion.

In the Senate during their session on Friday, Gaoteote didn’t mention the joint budget hearings, but he did inform senators that budget hearings are slated to begin Aug. 22, and for senators to review the budget in advance of the hearings.

He said the Senate Budget Committee should use this week to seek any information from the government needed for budget hearings. The Fono is currently working on a budget-hearing schedule.



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