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Tom Yamachika

Tom Yamachika
Tom Yamachika is the President of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a private, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to informing the taxpaying public about the finances of our state and local governments in Hawaii. Tom is also a tax attorney in solo practice and has been since early 2013. Prior to 2013, he was with the accounting firm Accuity LLP, which was formed in 2006 from the Honolulu office of Coopers & Lybrand (which later became PricewaterhouseCoopers). Before that, he served as an Administrative Rules Specialist in the State of Hawaii Department of Taxation from 1994 to 1996, where he drafted rules, interpretive releases, and legislation on several different state taxes. Prior to that, he practiced litigation and tax law with Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright in Honolulu.

TAXWatch: Finding the Magic Bullet, City’s Share of Rail Administrative Costs

In a recent hearing in the Honolulu City Council’s Budget Committee, council leaders say that they might have found a “magic bullet” – one that they say will get the City’s share of rail funding done painlessly. Here’s the issue.  The City needs to cover $44 million in administrative costs for rail for 2018 and 2019.  The City previously didn’t …

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TAXWatch: Reactionary Reaction to Resort Fees

One of the bills that has come out of the recently concluded legislative session is SB 2699, which proposes to make “resort fees” subject to our Transient Accommodations Tax (TAT). A “resort fee,” which also goes on your bill if you stay at a hotel, and not only in Hawaii but around the world, is to pay for other amenities …

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TAXWatch: Letting the Genie Out of the Bottle…for Our Keiki?

This November, voters throughout the State will be given the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment, brought forward by Senate Bill 2922, supposedly to fund primary school education.  The amendment would give the State Legislature the power to impose a real property tax surcharge on “investment real property.” The amendment, if approved by the voters, does not define what …

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TAXWatch: The Tax Office Said So, So It Must Be True

HB 2432, one of the bills actively being considered this session, proposes to hike the “transient occupancy tax,” or TOT, by an as-yet-unspecified amount.  This part of the bill is noteworthy for the factual support behind it.  Or, more particularly, the lack thereof.  It’s based on “the tax office said so, so it must be true.” The TOT is like …

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TAXWatch: Mighty Morphin Power Bills

In last week’s article, I said we should look forward to lots of surprises as lawmakers press forward with our legislative session with techniques such as “Gut and Replace” to give our legislative bills content that doesn’t at all resemble what they previously looked like.  Here are some that we have seen so far: HB 207, which started off as …

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TAXWatch: The Feds Gave You a Break? Now We, the State, Can Turn the Screws!

It’s not often that State lawmakers express their justification for imposing taxes in terms other than “We need the money to fund essential services and programs.”  But how about this?  The following language is from an actual bill. The legislature finds that the federal government has significantly raised the threshold for the federal estate tax.  The federal estate tax grants …

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TAXWatch: Financial Planning for a $200M Per Year Deficit?

A recent news release from the Hawai`i State Senate Majority Caucus says: The State Senate has drafted, discussed, and voted on SB508, SB2415, SB2484, SB2489, SB2699, and SB2821 that are projected to generate approximately $72 million in revenues based on the Department of Taxation estimates. The current State Financial Plan shows the State is over spending by $208 million this …

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TAXWatch: The California Stupidity Fund

One of the changes that was made in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which applies to our federal tax returns for this year, is a limitation on deductions for state and local tax.  Simply put, you can only deduct up to $10,000 in state and local tax. If you paid more, too bad, tough cookies.  (This limitation …

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TAXWatch: An Opportunity for Opportunity Zones

Dear Governor Ige: Whatever you may think of President Trump and the Republican-dominated Congress, they have thrown an opportunity our way, and you need to take action very soon—by March 21, 2018, to be exact—to take advantage of it. The Trump tax overhaul act, sometimes known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, provides two main incentives to encourage investment …

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TAXWatch: Groundhog Day in the Hawai`i Senate

You may remember Groundhog Day, the 1993 film starring Bill Murray.  In it, Murray played a Pittsburgh TV weatherman who, during an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, PA, found himself caught in a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. On February 28, I was in a hearing in the Senate money committee, testifying …

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