11 Jul 2018

Samoa govt may still seize ministers' assets over tax refusal

1:11 pm on 11 July 2018
Samoa PM, Tuilaepa addresses members of the cybercrime delegation

Samoa PM, Tuilaepa addresses members of the cybercrime delegation Photo: RNZ Pacific /Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia

Samoa's prime minister isn't ruling out seizing the assets of church ministers who refuse to pay income tax.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the refusal by ministers of the country's largest church to pay tax will not be tolerated.

On the first of July, a new law kicked in which requires church ministers and the head of state to pay income tax.

But pastors for the Congregational Christian Church, the country's largest, are refusing to pay, saying their income comes from donations -- and that paying tax is an affront to their faith.

The church's attempts to get the government to change its mind have failed.

In a statement, Prime Minister Tuilaepa said everyone must pay their tax, and laws are there that allow assets and bank accounts to be seized from those who refuse.

He said schools and other programmes rely on citizens paying their dues as their contribution to a country they love, finishing with a reminder for those refusing to pay to practice what they preach.

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