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.

VIEWPOINT: Is it time for a Constitutional Convention for Hawaii?

The 2018 general election is going to be a special one for our state because we get to vote on whether to have a constitutional convention. Normally, our legislature acts as the gatekeeper for any changes to the Hawaii Constitution.  No proposed amendment can even get on the ballot if our legislature hasn’t approved it.  In a way, this is …

Read More »

Cybergambling

Our state was recently in the news when State Reps. Chris Lee and Sean Quinlan held a press conference in response to the controversy surrounding loot boxes and microtransactions in video games.  Lee announced that he would be looking to introduce legislation to combat predatory practices by game publishers.  He called Star Wars: Battlefront II an “online casino specifically designed …

Read More »

Voluntary Additional Tax?

Recently I received an email from an alert citizen whose remarks were published in Money magazine in March 2017.  It apparently impressed the editors of the magazine enough to print this comment in extra-large type.  It was in response to an article titled “The 2017 Washington Wish List,” and here it is: Here’s my wish as an ordinary taxpayer:  Let’s …

Read More »

The Tax Administration Slush Fund

In early November 2017, the State Auditor issued Report 17-10, which reviewed special, revolving, and trust funds administered by the Department of Taxation.  One of them is the Tax Administration Special Fund, which, although not an area of concern for the auditor, is becoming an all-purpose slush fund for which corrective action is needed. The Tax Administration Special Fund was …

Read More »

VIEWPOINT: Are Car Rentals “Tourism Related Services”?

In the last few weeks I’ve been discussing the Foundation’s involvement in litigation involving online travel companies and the State’s attempts to wrest more general excise taxes out of them. The Foundation has limited its involvement with the case to the “res judicata” issue. This article describes the other issue: whether car rentals are “tourism related services.” This issue is …

Read More »

VIEWPOINT: No End to Litigation, Part 2

Two weeks ago, we wrote about a case now before the Hawaii Supreme Court in which the State audited and assessed the taxpayers, causing the taxpayers to spend millions of dollars on litigation that resulted in a court judgment. The State then audited and assessed more of the same taxes (General Excise taxes) for the same years, forcing both the …

Read More »

Department of Taxation Customer Service – Don’t’ Be a Victim

In an earlier article, I wrote about customer service at the Department of Taxation.  One alert reader wrote, with tongue firmly in cheek (I think), “I object to the use of the word ‘customer.’  It certainly doesn’t feel like that type of relationship to me.  Maybe ‘hostage’?” he writes. Calling a taxpayer a customer isn’t too far from reality.  Taxpayers …

Read More »

VIEWPOINT: Did DOTAX Turn the Corner on Customer Service?

It’s about time for our annual review of the Department of Taxation and its customer service.  Let’s see how the Department did in the year ending June 30, 2016, as reflected in the Department’s annual report. One notable improvement has been in the Department’s call answer rate.  If a practitioner or a taxpayer picks up the phone and calls the …

Read More »

VIEWPOINT: Incentives for Retirement Savings

During the past few months, the Tax Review Commission, a group provided for in our state constitution that is supposed to meet once every five years, has been busy at work. The Commission is tasked with recommending changes to our tax laws, and its consultant has recommended limiting the pension exemption that we now have in our state income tax …

Read More »