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reporters@samoanews.com

FIRST BATCH OF TAX REFUNDS IN 2012 RELEASED

Tax Office Manager Melvin Joseph said Tuesday that the total refund checks released Monday afternoon came to $469,065 - which cover taxpayers who filed up to Jan. 19.

Of the total tax refunds: $178,693 were for local refunds and $290,372 for the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), which is funded by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, said Joseph, who reminds all employers that W-2 forms were to have been given to employees by Jan. 31.

He also reminds all employees that processing tax returns can be expedited, if the person provides all necessary and correct information, such as the social security number - including social security for any dependents claimed - and W-2 forms.

THREE MORE CRUISE SHIPS FOR WEEK

American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau executive director David Vaeafe said two more cruise ships will be calling into the Port of Pago Pago, bringing more visitors to the territory.

Cunard Line's 'Queen Elizabeth' is scheduled to arrive on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14 from Honolulu, before heading to Nandi, Fiji later that evening.  A regular visitor, Holland America Line's 'Amsterdam' will arrive Feb. 18 from Pape'ete, French Polynesia then heads for Lifou, New Caledonia.

The two vessels will be in port for the day with passengers disembarking to go sightseeing and shopping. The total number of passengers and crew for both ships was not available at press time.

TAFUNA CHURCH ROBBED THREE TIMES

Responding to a Samoa News story last week, an official with a church in Tafuna says their church was burglarized three times.

Capt. Lavata’i Ta’ase Sagapolutele, who heads the Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigative Division, said that of the 93 burglary cases in 2011 only 1% were churches.

Lavata’i said that luckily, Samoans are church-going people, so they tend not to burglarize the churches.

However, the official at the Tafuna-based church said churches are still being targeted by  suspects. He said their church was burglarized twice two years ago when someone stole the air conditioner, which was later replaced and the new one was again stolen.

“We decided not to replace it any more and the hole on the side of the wall for the air conditioner is still there,” the official, who asked not be identified, told Samoa News on Wednesday.

And then last year, someone broke into the church and stole the new PA system, which is still missing and the church is looking at how to replace this system, said the official, adding that the church decided not to report the incident to the police because it makes for bad news, when people burglarize churches.

The official also said that the total value of the stolen items came to more than $500 and didn’t include labor costs for the installation of the two air conditioners and the PA system.

“We try to teach people not to steal - including not stealing from churches - but it still happens,” the official said. “Our church pastor also preaches the same message to the congregation.”

Samoa News has learned that at least three other churches were burglarized in the recent past. Instead of reporting the thefts to the police, their own church members now watch the premises at night.



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