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The times they are changing: No more lining up at Disbursing for tax refunds

American Samoa Executive Office Building
Coronavirus forces Tax Office to implement new policy

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — To prevent the spread of the coronavirus and comply with the governor’s extended emergency declaration, ASG Tax Office is implementing a new policy for the distribution of tax refund checks, says ASG Treasurer Ueligitone Tonumaipe’a.

Tax refunds distribution has traditionally been done at the Treasury Department’s Disbursing Office, located on the first floor of the A.P. Lutali Executive Office Building (EOB) in Utulei.

But the global threat of the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing people around the world, as well as locals, to adopt new measures.

Last Friday, more than $1.2 million of tax refund checks were distributed at the Disbursing Office, with residents expecting refunds crowding inside the EOB Atrium. Some tax filers even brought along relatives or children.

Effective today, Mar. 23rd, the Tax Office is taking a new approach.

Tonumaipe’a, in a Mar. 20th letter, informed Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga of the new tax refund check distribution process, in order to comply with COVID-19 measures cited in the governor’s extended emergency declaration issued Mar. 18th.

According to the Treasurer, all future tax refunds “will be distributed” via postal service to the person’s mail box “to keep the normal crowding” at the EOB to a minimum and within the emergency declaration mandate of no large public gatherings.

If the tax payers don’t have a mailbox address — or general delivery — the Tax office will coordinate with Disbursing Office to release tax refunds.

“All future tax filings will require taxpayers to provide an accurate mailing address,” said Tonumaipe’a, adding that the Tax Office will also review and validate each tax refund batch for accuracy and that Treasury will continue to provide timely public notification for all future tax refund release dates and any change to tax refund disbursing.

According to the Treasurer, the Tax Office “will pilot test direct deposits for future tax refund disbursing, to be in compliance with all banking requirements.”

“These changes are intended to safeguard the general public and support the protective measures” in the governor’s extended emergency declaration to combat the COVID-19, he concluded.