Minister defends business fees hike

By Joyetter Feagaimaali’i-Luamanu ,

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Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt.

Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

The cost of doing business in Samoa will increase in 2018.

But the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, has defended the move to increase business licenses fees, saying it is not a lot of money. 

The increase from $250 to $280 will be effective come 1 January 2018. 

The Minister has also assured the business community that the tax rate will remain at 27 percent. 

This was his response to questions from the Weekend Observer.

He said the business license fees have not been increased for the past 10 years. 

“The increase is from 250 to 280,” he said. “So for the past 10 years, the 15 percent increase is not that much. 

“It’s unclear why there hasn’t been an increase over the last years. I just took over the Ministry in 2016 and that was my first question, why hasn’t there been an increase over the years? 

“I have been in business for over twenty years and I haven’t seen any increase in business license. 

“The increase is not much. We can go play bingo with a $100 a night, so the increase is minimal.”

Asked about the feedback from the business community, he said it is generally positive.

 “They should be very happy we are increasing the business licensing fees rather than the business taxes, which is what we can do, but we have opted for the fees,” he said. 

“From $250 to $280, it’s only a $30 increase. 

“But we are still keeping the 27 percent business taxes. 

“We also give rebate of 50 percent of business taxes for the exporters,” said Tialavea. 

He gave an example. 

“If you export a $100 million worth of good overseas, the tax that should be paid is $27 million. 

“So the rebate we are giving them is $13.5million,” explained Tialavea. 

The Minister of Revenue assured that so long as he’s in office, the businesses tax rate will remain at 27 percent. 

“Initially it was 30 percent but then it decreased to 27 percent and it will not increase. 

“We can’t increase it again, it can be reduced but it will never increase again.” 

Also effective January is the taxation of Church Ministers and Head of State. 

Other fees implemented by the Samoa Government this year included:

• Companies and Trust licenses $800; 

• Sole Traders and all other registered businesses, the new fee is $352; 

• Entry permit fee for U.S. Nationals for up to 14 days will double to $US20; 

• Urgent issuance the fee will be $US30 and for multiple entries for 12 months will cost $US150; 

U.S. national overstayers new fee of $200

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