Advance Child Tax Credit heads to governor’s office for signature
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Acting Gov. Talauega Eleasalo V. Ale has signed into law the government’s more than $500 million budget for fiscal year 2022, while the Fono has given the final endorsement to an Administration bill adopting into local statute the federal Advance Child Tax Credit — which would be valid for only a certain period of time.
FY 2022 BUGDGET
In a Sept. 13th cover letter, Talauega informed Fono leaders that the budget for FY 2022 — which begins Oct. 1st this year — was signed into law on that date. The approval of the House version of the budget bill came after a review of the legislation that was returned to the Governor’s Office, Talauega said.
The acting governor expressed “sincerest gratitude and appreciation for the diligent work” carried out by the Fono in reviewing and passing the $552.78 million final ASG budget for the new fiscal year.
The Fono didn’t make any changes to the original language of the legislation, which will be funded with $110.16 from local revenue; $219.59 million in federal grants; $212.85 million under Enterprise Funds — which includes budgets for ASG’s semi autonomous agencies or authorities — and $10.26 million in Capital Improvement Projects.
Many local residents continue to wait for the latest update and word as to when the Fono will approve an Administration bill that would amend local tax laws, allowing the ASG Treasury to distribute thousands of dollars under the federal Advance Child Tax Credit program using funds provided by the US Treasury Department pursuant to provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021.
The Senate passed its version of the bill about three weeks ago and sent it to the House. And early last week, the Senate approved the House version of the bill — which seeks to adopt the Child Tax Credit Improvements for 2021 provision of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 — “by American Samoa through the end of 2021 tax year.”
On Monday this week, the House approved the Senate version of the bill and returned it back to senators yesterday with a communication that the Senate version would be enrolled in Fono records and transmitted to the Governor’s Office for review and approval.
Under the American Rescue Plan, the payments are being distributed starting July 15th to December this year, according to the US Internal Revenue Service, which has said that the total payment is $3,600 for children ages 5 and under at the end of 2021; and $3,000 for children ages 6 through 17 at the end of 2021.
ASG Tax Office manager, Vaaimamao Poufa told lawmakers last month that qualified tax payers would receive four payments — $750 for each payment. They are scheduled to go out on the last week of September and the third week of December, 2021, while the third and fourth payments are scheduled to go out some time next year, depending on the time taxpayers file their tax return for 2021.
Now those taxpayers who qualify for this new federal benefit are anxiously waiting for the governor to sign the bill into law and then get them their first payment.
Senate President Tuaolo Manaia Fruean informed senators yesterday that the House leaders have requested a joint Fono closing on Friday, which is final day of the Second Regular Session. Tuaolo said that he accepted the request and for the joint closing.