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So-called 'hidden' tax on church ministers raises ire in Samoa

[Photo: Tipi Autagavaia]

The newly introduced income tax on Samoan church ministers and pastors continues to cause ripples in Samoa.

The mayor of the Savai'i village of Fagasa, Fa'itau Tuitama'i, told the Samoa Observer the government had misled the public over the tax.

The mayor said they were told only 'alofa' or members' donations to the church would be taxed, but tax was also being imposed on the gratuities traditionally given to ministers when they officiate at birthday, wedding and funeral services.

He said the government was hiding this.

Another Savai'i mayor, Moeautolo Filipo of Safua, said there was not enough consultation between the government and the public on the issue.

He said churches help Samoa's communities in many ways and never ask the government for help.