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: 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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 »