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Community Viewpoint

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 …

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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 …

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Community Viewpoint: Why no trailer parks on Maui?

Have you ever wondered why there aren’t any trailer parks on Maui? Or why “tiny home” villages haven’t caught on in the islands yet? With the cost of housing displacing more local families every day, these affordable alternative communities are noticeably absent. So what’s preventing their development? Ironically, there are not actually any explicit legal barriers, according to the Maui …

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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 …

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Harbors Are for Soaking the Taxpayer – Again and Again

In a prior article, we reported that last December, administrative rules were finalized that wrought significant increases in fees charged by the Department of Transportation, Harbors Division.  Those fees increased 17% beginning on February 1, 2017; they will increase another 15% on October 1, 2017; they will increase another 15% on July 1, 2018; and they will increase on July …

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Legislature with ‘U R’ Missing

This week, I was inspired by a sign on the First Baptist Church on Pensacola Street here in Honolulu.  Their sign read, “CH _ _ C H – what’s missing?   U R !” If you take away “U R” from “CHURCH,” you are left with “CHCH,” which isn’t even a word.  Apparently, the point there is that the church isn’t …

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Rail: I Dunno About TAT

We are getting closer to the special session that our Legislature has scheduled to continue its discussion about funding Honolulu rail.  During this past session, the House and Senate were unable to agree on a common version of a bill to continue rail funding. The two chambers disagreed about whether to use our Transient Accommodations Tax (“TAT”).  The TAT is …

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VIEWPOINT: Mansions easier to build on Maui than apartments

Have you ever wondered why developers on Maui spend their time building mansions instead of affordable homes? At first glance, it would seem they could make more money building mansions, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Surprisingly, developers often make less money on mansions than if they were to build low-end or mid-level homes or apartments. Why? The reason is …

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VIEWPOINT: Ad regarding school bus service was self-serving and misleading

The beginning of every school year is a time of great excitement for students, parents and staff, that also brings new challenges to overcome. Each year, our bus contractors enable the safe delivery of approximately 40,000 students statewide every day. The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) recognizes that for 383 of its students on Maui these expectations were not …

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