Breaking News

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: 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 …

Read More »

TAXWatch: By the Way, Could We Have $50 Million More?

Our Legislature is now in session, and one of the big functions of the money committees – the Senate Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Finance – is to balance the state budget.  The Governor submits a budget to start with, the Council on Revenues weighs in with how much money the State is expected to …

Read More »

A Penny for Education

One of the bills making its way through our legislative system this session is one that would create a special fund for public education, and then funnel to that fund twenty-five percent of all the money that our General Excise Tax brings in. “25% of the four percent tax is just a penny out of every dollar,” proponents of the …

Read More »

Trump Tax In Hawai`i?

One of the more visible tax issues that our lawmakers will be thinking about this session is how to adapt the new federal tax law changes, sometimes called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and what we have been calling Trump Tax, to Hawaii. Each year, our Department of Taxation is required to consider the federal tax changes that have …

Read More »

The Value of a Refundable Credit

In the 2017 legislative session, our legislature passed an earned income tax credit (EITC), which its supporters maintain is the best solution to lift families out of poverty since sliced bread.  At the Department of Taxation‘s urging, however, the EITC was made nonrefundable.  Advocates clearly didn’t like that, and are already imploring the 2018 legislature to make the credit refundable. …

Read More »

How Much Does a Crosswalk Cost?

Most of us are very familiar with crosswalks and traffic signals.  We pass a few of them every day.  We might get stopped by a red light from one of them.  But have we ever stopped to think how much one of these things cost? One of the bills introduced in the recent legislative session, Senate Bill 2004, tells the …

Read More »

Oops! Math Error!

The National Taxpayer Advocate recently produced a “Purple Book” containing her top 50 recommendations for the IRS.  One of them concerned “math error authority,” which brought to mind one of the failings in Hawaii’s tax system. On the federal side, disputes between the IRS and taxpayers play out through a lengthy process.  The IRS proposes an assessment, the taxpayer responds …

Read More »

TrumpTax, Part 2

One of the new, key components of Trump Tax is a provision important to the vast majority of small businesses.  Practitioners may know it as the Section 199A deduction. Under Trump Tax, corporations that used to see a maximum tax rate of 35% got that rate slashed to 21%.  About 75% of businesses, however, are not taxed at the corporate …

Read More »

TrumpTax, Part 1

As we nervously await the opening of the 2018 Legislature, we wonder how our state will approach tax conformity now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or “Trump Tax,” is now law. Most states, including ours, conform to federal tax law.  That means we generally adopt the federal law provisions that tell us what is income and what we …

Read More »

What’s a Carbon Tax?

Recently, the Hawaii Tax Review Commission’s primary consultant, PFM Group, issued a final report to the Commission asking it to review many taxing alternatives, including a “carbon tax” that had the potential to put an additional $360 million per year into our state coffers (assuming a tax rate of $20 per metric ton of CO2 released). PFM Group pointed out …

Read More »