27 Aug 2007

Expence allowances for American Samoan senators to be taxed

11:15 am on 27 August 2007

Lawmakers in American Samoa are to have their office expences allowance taxed by the United States government.

Under territorial laws, the lawmaker's allowance is non-taxable and is used for expences when members carry out official duties.

However, the American Samoa Government Treasurer, Velega Savali, informed the Fono over the weekend that, effective immediately, their allowance will be subject to federal withholding taxes.

Velega says this is in accordance with U.S. tax law, which requires that payments to employees for necessary business expenses which fall under a 'non-accountable plan' are considered wages and are subject to federal withholdings.

The move has angered some senators, including Senator Al Dr. Paul Stevenson, who has sought a legal opinion from the Senate's legal team.

Each member of the Fono receives US$30,000 annually while the Fono leadership each gets$40,000 US dollars a year for expences.