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Community Viewpoint

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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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VIEWPOINT: Why Are Maui’s Malls Vacant?

Today nearly 12 percent of Maui’s retail space is empty, and that figure is expected to rise to 16 percent by the beginning of next year. That would amount to an increase of 100 percent since 2013, when retail vacancy was at 8 percent. It may not be apparent walking through Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center, but take a stroll through Lahaina …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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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