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Tax filings way off mark — off island filling suspected

DHS helping to track offenders
joy@samoanews.com

Treasurer Dr. Falema’o “Phil” M. Pili has issued a stern warning to members of the public who are filings taxes off island — “its illegal”. The announcement was made during the Cabinet meeting Thursday morning at the ASCC Lecture Hall. Pili said they have consulted with the governor on this serious issue.
 
“We are experiencing a very serious issue with our tax filing this year, right this time last year we had taken in six- seven thousand tax filings, yet right now we have received only 2,000 tax returns.” He also stated they have set up people from the tax office over at the canneries, yet they had to close it down, because hardly anyone was filing.
 
Pili said, “This is because people are filing off island to take advantage of the EIC — Earned Income Credit — it’s dangerous and wrong and the consequences are very severe, whoever is helping our people to file off island they need to stop.”
 
He reiterated that the territory’s people will be faced with severe consequences once the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) comes down here to conduct an investigation.
 
During the cabinet meeting, Director of the Department of Homeland Security, Utuali’i Iuniasolua Savusa noted his investigators have been working with the IRS to track down people who have been filing off island.
 
In a statement issued by the Treasurer late Friday afternoon, he noted there’s a considerable amount of local tax payers filing their local income tax returns off island with the IRS. “This is being done to take advantage of tax credits; particularly the Earned Income Credit and other benefits that you are not neither authorized nor entailed to receive.”
 
Pili stated, “This is a violation of the tax laws of American Samoa and the United States,”
 
He pointed out that currently there is a collaborative effort with the IRS to identify individuals who have filed improperly and to stop accepting future returns.
 
The Treasurer warned if its determined that anyone “did in fact file inappropriately, you will be required to repay any money received, along with interest and penalties and other punitive actions may also be imposed against you.”
 
He said the Treasury Department is processing individual income tax returns and refund disbursements for the Tax Seasons 2014. “All local tax payers are required to file their respective 2013 wages and earnings in the territory. Payment of taxes is the responsibility of all American Samoan citizens, legal residents and those that do business here.”
 
According to the statement, he said as Treasurer its his duty to warn the general public of the severity of the consequences that will impact individuals and their families who continue to file off island.
 
“This warning notice is also directed to the preparers of these tax returns of the bad consequences that will impact you once the appropriate federal agency catches up with you, regarding these wrongful activities,” said.
 
Pili said to avoid potential delinquency on your part, you must file in accordance to where you earned your wages. “The law is clear, if you earned wages or income in American Samoa you pay taxes in American Samoa.”
 
The Treasurer urged those who have inquiries to contact Tax Division  633-4181 or Tax Manager Richard Jimmerson via email Richard.jimmerson@tr.as.gov.



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