Pay up traffic fines if you want tax refund


American Samoa residents with outstanding traffic and other fines with the District Court will experience delays with their ASG tax refunds as their refund checks can be used to off-set any outstanding debts with the court.

This has been the practice in past years at the start of the New Year, which is also the start of the new tax season as residents file their tax returns.

District Court staff are preparing a list of all persons with outstanding fines, costs and bench warrant fees which will be forwarded to the ASG Treasurer and Tax Office this week, according to a court news release on Tuesday.

District Court Judge John Ward II says the court staff annually prepares this list and makes it “available to the Treasurer who is statutorily authorized to offset any debts owed to ASG by anyone against any payments from ASG due to that person.”

“Traffic fines and fines for minor criminal offenses collected by the court are deposited in the general fund of ASG just like all other government fees, taxes and tariffs,” said Ward in a  news release.

“As with other such debts owed to the government, the Treasurer can use the off-set power to collect those debts from accounts payable to vendors, employees and persons claiming tax refunds,” he said.

This year, the court is also supplying the same list to the Attorney General’s Office and the Immigration Office.

“Under immigration statutes, sponsors of foreign nationals are responsible for the foreign national’s ‘public debts’ — taxes, medical and educational costs, and legal expenses of the public defender,” Ward explained.

The judge advised that anyone with outstanding traffic or other fines should stop by the District Court building in Fagatogo anytime from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday thru Friday and pay them off, including costs.

The total number of residents on the list from District Court was not immediately known.


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