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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: Pray I Don’t Alter It Any Further

A few days ago, I got my annual emailed reminder from the Social Security folks that they prepared an electronic statement for me – they’ve gone green, so they aren’t sending those statements on paper any more.  So, for the first time in years, I logged in and looked at it.  There, in the middle of the page, were some …

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TAXWatch: Can’t You Just Change the Agenda?

Recently, State Auditor Les Kondo shocked the public and some Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) Board members when he charged, at a HART board meeting, that HART employees had been required to record all interviews with State Auditor personnel and then submit the recordings to management to be transcribed.  That’s “interference with the audit process,” he said. What happened …

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TAXWatch: Balanced Budget

If you are a serious student of Hawaii constitutional law, here is a question for you.  Where in our state constitution does it say we have to have a balanced budget?  The answer appears later in this article. The part of our constitution directly governing our state’s budget is Article VII, section 8.  It says that “the governor shall submit …

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TAXWatch: The California Stupidity Fund, Part 2

About three months ago, I wrote about the $10,000 limitation on deductions for state and local tax that is part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.  In a nutshell, you can only deduct up to $10,000 in state and local tax.  If you paid more, you get no tax deduction for the excess; not now, and not …

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TAXWatch: We Can’t See It or Touch It, But We Can Tax It!

This week we look at HB 2416, a bill that applies Hawaii Use Tax to intangible property. The Use Tax is a tax designed to protect our local businesses.  As a consumer, you often have a choice between buying a product from a local seller and one from somewhere out of state.  Our general excise tax applies to the local …

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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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