AMERICAN SAMOA GETTING TOUGH ON BUSINESS TAXES

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 9, 1998 -Samoa News/Tohi)--- Legislation was introduced in the American Samoa Fono last week by Senate President Lutu Tenari Fuimaono that, if passed, would require businesses to pay taxes due before being eligible for annual license renewals.

Under current laws, the territorial government can refuse to issue a license renewal to a legally operating business only if the proprietor has not filed appropriate tax forms, even if taxes are due.

Governor Tauese Sunia told the Samoa News that during his administration's first year in office, the government has been deprived of millions of dollars as a result of businesses not paying taxes due, in some cases for many years.

The Department of Commerce has processed more than 2,000 business license renewal applications for 1998, but according to government Treasurer Tifimalae Ale, only a little over 1,000 of the licenses have been issued. The others are pending, primarily because the applicants have not filed all required tax forms.

An audit by the Tax Office conducted last year showed that during Fiscal Year 1996, while 2,937 business licenses were issued and renewed, only 357 businesses or about 13% had actually paid all income taxes then due.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to samoanews@samoatelco.com

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