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Community Voices

Community Voices: The Rail Bill and Other Curiosities

Between the beginning of this legislative session and April 28, the Rail Bill (SB 1183) was heard and debated numerous times.  It seemed as if there were two main variables under discussion:  how many years the county surcharge on our general excise tax was to be extended, and the extent that the State would “skim,” namely, take a cut off …

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Community Voices: Making Money at the County Level

When we speak of and follow government in this space, we usually concentrate on state government and the state legislature.  But we mustn’t forget that there are county governments as well.  They supply important services such as police, fire, park and road maintenance, trash and sewer disposal, and water supply. How does a county raise money to pay for these …

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Tax Casualty? Maui Memorial Hospital

This week our series of tax news returns to Maui, where we have an update on the efforts to help with Maui Memorial Hospital workers and other employees of our state health system. As we have written before, our state-run hospitals in Maui County, including Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital & Clinic, and Lanai Community Hospital, have been losing …

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Tax Casualty? Maui County Carnival

The 2nd Annual Maui County Carnival, scheduled for April 6-9, 2017, has been canceled.  Skyrocketing state government fees have been blamed as one reason for the cancellation. In April 2016, E.K. Fernandez Shows brought the carnival to Maui for four days at the War Memorial Complex in Wailuku.  The inaugural event featured rides, games, food, entertainment, and special attractions.  The …

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TAXWatch: The CreditAbles

This year’s legislative session, as in many others, considers many and varied forms of tax relief.  Terms being bandied about include exemptions, deductions, and tax credits, and among tax credits there are the “CreditAbles” – refundable, nonrefundable, and assignable credits.  This week we will take some of the mysteries out of those terms. An “exemption” or “exclusion” describes something that …

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Economic Nexus: Solving the Online Tax Dodge

Recently there has been some confusion about a bill now in our legislature, SB 620, that would redefine how our general excise tax laws define “doing business.” The bill concerns a U.S. Constitutional concept called “substantial nexus.”  Some amount of connection between a potential taxpayer and a State is needed before the State has power to impose that tax.  The …

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Community Voices: Yes, Toto, Tourists Also Pay Real Property Tax

On March 8, the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism released a study on Hawaii real property taxes. It may be unusual for a State agency to do a study on a county tax.  But this study appeared to be an outgrowth of a move by our teachers’ union during the 2016 legislative session, which we wrote about …

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Community Voices: County workers in Hawaii make highest wages in nation

County workers in the state of Hawaii make the highest wages on average in the entire nation compared to county workers in other states, according to research from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows that county workers in Hawaii make a mean average wage of $61,365 a year. Private sector workers in …

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Community Voices: Plantation Worker Pride and Perspective

The plantation era is over in Hawaii, and a new generation of leaders will determine what comes next. Like many of my friends, I am a product of our plantation history, stemming from seven generations of mixed-race workers here on Maui. My first job was picking pineapples at 14 years old to help my widowed mother with family bills. My …

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Community Voices: Hawaii crime goes down, police spending goes up

Almost every morning, Hawaii residents wake up to news stories of violent crime in local papers, from road rage stabbings to burglaries. Most people in the islands might assume crime is getting worse, but surprise: crime in Hawaii is actually falling. Over the past two decades, crime in Hawaii has fallen by over 40 percent. This is during a time …

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