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reporters@samoanews.com

TAX FILING SEASON UNDERWAY

The Tax Office is already busy processing tax returns filed for tax year 2012 and the Tax Office staff is assisting the public with preparing their tax returns, free of charge, for single filing under the simple tax form.

“We have already accepted filing of tax returns and are now being processed,” said Tax Office manager Melvin Joseph, who added that there are about 20 plus tax payers showing up at a time to prepare taxes and file returns.

“No major long lines, because it's early on — so it’s best to come soon to file your tax when the W-2 form is received from your employer,” Joseph told Samoa News in a phone interview.

As required by law, Jan. 31 is the official deadline for employers to provide W-2 tax returns for employees. For the two major employers in the territory, ASG released the W-2s this week while the cannery released theirs sometime last week.

All tax forms and instructions are available at the Tax Office on the first floor of the A.P. Lutali Executive Office Building in Utulei and Joseph said it's the same tax table from the previous year since there were no recent changes in tax laws affecting tax year 2012.

Joseph stressed that taxpayers need to have all the necessary information before they file, to ensure there are no delays in processing their tax returns.

Examples include making sure the information on the tax return is accurate, having your social security number right and bringing it with you when file. Have your W-2 form ready — and if you have a part time job, make sure all W-2 forms are included for filing. In other words, if you have more than one job, you must file all the W-2s at one time, not separately.

“It’s very important that a tax filer has all the data before filing,” said Joseph.

AMERICAN SAMOA INCLUDED IN NEW ZEALAND TRAVEL BROCHURE

A travel wholesale company in New Zealand has included for the first time in its brochures the territory of American Samoa as a holiday destination in the South Pacific.

The American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau said in its monthly e-Newsletter dated Jan. 28 that Go Holidays has included the territory in the 2013-2014 brochure.

Visitor’s Bureau executive director, David Vaeafe said the inclusion in such brochures was part of the agency’s strategy to partner with key international travel trade industry members to promote and sell our destination.

Last year, a Go Holidays representative visited American Samoa as a group of seven New Zealand travel wholesalers and from that visit, the Visitor’s Bureau has been able to negotiate the inclusion of American Samoa into their Samoa product.

Vaeafe says Go Holidays saw the potential the territory had as a destination and with close proximity to Samoa, travelers have the option of combining the two destinations into one holiday.

American Samoa’s inclusion in the brochure features a general introduction page with travel tips, map and sightseeing section featuring tour options with local industry businesses as well as accommodation options, according to the e-Newsletter.

Go Holidays distributes its brochures and promotes its destinations through a number of retail travel agencies throughout New Zealand and as a subsidiary of the Stella Group, other travel companies owned by Stella worldwide also have access to the rates and products offered, which they can also sell to their clients.

FALEOMAVAEGA ASSIGNED TO SUBCOMMITTEES ON NATURAL RESOURCES

Congressman Faleomavaega Eni has been assigned to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Ocean and Insular Affairs and the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus of the House Committee on Natural Resources.The Committee on Natural Resources consists of 26 Republicans and 21 Democrats.

The Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Ocean and Insular Affairs has jurisdiction on all issues pertaining to our Insular Areas, including Compact countries, as well as fisheries and wildlife resources. This includes oversight on the budgets for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Office of Insular Affairs within the U.S. Department of Interior, as well as the National Marine Fisheries Service and the specific programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs oversees all matters relating to Native Americans and Alaska Natives. This includes federal policy on tribal recognition, natural resources management on Indian reservation, and all budgetary requests for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and other offices and agencies that have functions relating to Native American and Alaska Native affairs.

“Given the national debt crisis our nation faces today, there will be much work to do concerning the priorities and funding for the U.S. Department of Interior,” Faleomavaega said. “This includes the funding for the Territories and possibly the merging of agencies as part of President Obama’s consolidation plan for the federal government.”



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