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: So What Really Is a Resort Fee?

It’s July 2019, and already we are starting to see laws passed in the 2019 Legislature take effect.  One of these laws concerns “resort fees” that hotels both here and in other states and countries have been charging their guests.  A resort fee is supposed to be a payment for amenities provided to guests of the hotel.  But some hotels …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Do We Have a Legitimate Government?

E very so often, the news reports on people who deny the legitimacy of the government we have here in Hawaii. “We’re not subject to those laws,” they say, “so we don’t have to follow rules or pay taxes.”  It pains me to read stories of people who lost their homes after being told that they didn’t have to pay back …

Read More »

TAXWatch: The Tax on Ghost Homes

T he Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie is discussing a new Honolulu property tax proposal with his wife, the consummate researcher. Q.  I thought we had enough problems trying to tax the usage of real property.  Now the City and County wants to tax people who don’t use their real property! A.  Do you mean the mayor’s proposed tax on …

Read More »

TAXWatch: It’s the Economy, Stupid

“It’s the Economy, Stupid” is a catchphrase made famous by Bill Clinton when he ran for president in 1992 and won.  Recently, we have been getting lots of news about our economy here in the islands, and none of it has been good.  The national site WalletHub has pegged our economy 48th out of 51 (including DC).  We eked out …

Read More »

TAXWatch: HI-5 – Have We Stopped the Leakage Yet?

Just three months ago, the Hawaii State Auditor released the latest in a series of reports over the years on the Hawaii Deposit Beverage Container Program, known as HI-5.  That report, No. 19-08, basically said, “Look.  We’ve issued four audit reports on the program, every two years beginning with 2013.  In each of the reports, we rely on the distributors …

Read More »

TAXWatch: DOE, Fork Over That General Ledger!

The Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie’s son has come home from school, and today he has a few more questions than usual. Q. Dad!  What’s a general ledger? A. Grrr…I’m trying to write an article here. Why don’t you ask Mom? Q. She just chased me out of the kitchen. A. Oh? Okay then. Hmm…lots of businesses and organizations keep …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Shining Light on Revenue Estimates

At the Legislature, I often hear legislators considering proposed tax legislation ask our Department of Taxation (DOTAX) how much money a certain proposal would bring in (if it’s a “revenue raiser”) or cost (if it’s a tax credit or exemption).  Sometimes, the DOTAX representative at the hearing peers into a little manila folder he or she brings to the hearing …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Gut-n-Replace 2019

This week we’ll discuss a couple of examples from this legislative session of the controversial but commonly used technique called “Gut and Replace” where a bill is amended so much that it looks nothing like its former self. Senate Bill (SB) 162, as originally introduced, would have provided tax credits for hiring elderly people In late February, the Departments of …

Read More »

TAXWatch: A Threat to Judicial Independence

When we learn about our three branches of government, we’re usually told that the legislative branch makes the laws, the executive branch carries them out, and the judiciary branch interprets them.  Each branch serves as a check and balance on the other two. The legislative branch also has the power to raise money, for example by imposing taxes, and the …

Read More »