11 Apr 2017

Samoa pastor opposed to new tax plan

5:57 am on 11 April 2017

A Pentecostal pastor in Samoa says he is against the government's move to try and tax church earnings.

The Ministry for Revenue is consulting this week with churches and communities about the move that aims to tax direct personal donations from individual churchgoers to members of the clergy.

Pastor Samoa Unoi from the Peace Chapel in Apia said many pastors didn't get set wages, but live off donations from parishioners.

"What they get is not wages. What they get is honorarium. It is different to the people's normal wages. In a normal job you are paid according to the hours you work but the pastor's job and the pastor's calling cannot be organised by the same thing. There are no hours, it is 24/7."

Pastor Samoa Unoi said that the other difficulty was that all the different churches in Samoa also have different ways of handling their finances and accounting for donations.

He said that if you studied the scripture, Jesus did not pay any tax and the connotation of taxation in the bible is a negative one.

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Photo: RNZ/ Tracy Neal