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Tax refunds to be issued today — but no Additional Child Tax Credit yet

SG Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Just in time for Flag Day and Easter, tax refund checks — for those who qualify — will be released today; but only the locally funded ones, it does not include the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), which is funded by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Many taxpayers who are getting a refund have been complaining about the delay in getting their refund checks, as the deadline for filing for Tax Year 2018 is the close of business next week Monday, Apr. 15th.

In the past, the first batch of refund checks is released in early March.

In a brief statement yesterday, ASG Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a said Treasury will be releasing today, Apr. 12th, tax refunds “that are locally funded ONLY” and the refunds are for those who filed between Jan. 10th and Jan. 25th.

For taxpayers expecting tax refunds including the ACTC, “please be informed that all are on hold for now as we await a decision” from the IRS and the US Treasury Department, he said.

The federal 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act “changed many aspects of our tax law and specifically, it modified the law regarding claiming the ACTC,” Tonumaipe’a explained. “This change is being reviewed by the IRS and US Treasury.”

Tonumaipe’a apologizes for any inconvenience caused and regrets the delay in issuing 2018 tax refunds.

The 2017 federal law includes provisions which increase the ACTC amount from $1,000 to $3,000 for those who qualify. And this increase has been welcomed by those who qualify for the refund — hence the complaints about the delay.

ASG officials told Samoa News that the Tax Office has been working with the IRS and US Treasury to clarify provisions of the federal law that apply to American Samoa. 

Samoa News points out that local tax laws, mirror federal law.

After being informed via telephone of Tonumaipe’a's statement, three tax payers told Samoa News yesterday it's terrible that these issues weren’t ironed out by ASG a long time ago.

But they are still thankful for the “small amount” from the local refund, which will help pay bills while any leftover money will be spent on Flag Day festivities and Easter weekend, which starts Friday, Apr. 19th with Good Friday and Easter Sunday on Apr. 21st.

Meanwhile the Tax Office reminds local taxpayers that it's illegal to file local taxes with the IRS. The verbal warning comes as Samoa News is still receiving reports — the latest as of Monday this week — of some local residents sending their tax forms to be filed in the US for a higher tax return amount, through the Earned Income Credit — for which American Samoa doesn’t qualify.