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TAXWatch: An Expensive Charter Crisis on Maui

M aui has figured out a way to bleed cash from its budget very quickly.  It’s called a “Charter Crisis.” It pits one part of government against another one.  Lawyers then are needed to represent one or both warring parties, and when those lawyers get paid, there’s a good chance that taxpayers will end up footing the bill. A case …

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TAXWatch: The Parable of the Two Horses!

T he Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie at long last has made his son put down his smartphone. Son:  Dad, I’m a little old for bedtime stories. Doggie:  Hush and listen!  And don’t fall asleep on me, darn it! Two horses that were sent to different towns, Harburg and Tarburg.  The folks in the different towns needed the horse to …

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TAXWatch: Saving the Legislature from Itself!

T his week we look at the State Auditor’s recent follow-up report, Report No. 19-14, on the Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production income tax credit.  It notes that when the Auditor’s office previously took up the issue, in Report No. 16-08, the Auditor took the Department of Taxation to task for allowing out-of-state production related expenses to qualify …

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TAXWatch: Business Fees Go Down! –Huh?

I n the news recently was a story about business and licensing fees actually going down.   These fees were imposed by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA).  The money from those fees was funneled to special funds that were supposed to assist with the costs of regulating the industries to which they pertained, namely financial institutions, the cable …

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TAXWatch: The Strange Case of Bank of America

O nce upon a time, there was a big bank called Bank of America.  It wanted to try doing business in Hawaii, since it was already in many of the other western states, so it reached a deal to buy Honolulu Federal (do you remember HonFed?) and took over all of their branches in Hawaii.  This was in 1992.   In …

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TAXWatch: If Housing Costs in Honolulu Are Bad Now…

T he cost of having four walls and a roof over your head in Honolulu has been staggeringly expensive relative to the rest of the nation for a while now.  The median price of a single-family home on Oahu in July reached $835,000, while the median price of a condominium rose to $460,000, according to a report from Honolulu real …

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TAXWatch: They’re Taking Their Business Elsewhere

A few months ago, we tried to remind folks about “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”  There we reported that we had been getting lots of news about our economy, and none of it was good. This month, the University of Hawaii’s economics research organization, UHERO, released its third quarter economic outlook on Hawaii.  The title of the paper wasn’t exactly comforting: …

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TAXWatch: Effects of the Jones Act

H ere in Hawaii, we are intensely dependent on goods that come into the State from faraway places, whether it be the U.S. mainland, Asia, or anywhere else in the world.  Part of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, more commonly known as the “Jones Act,” affects us greatly because it prohibits any ship from carrying passengers or cargo between …

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TAXWatch: Thirty Years of State Tax, Part 2

Q :  We continue our series on the past 30 years of state tax with our researcher, the Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie’s wife. Watch Doggie:  And me! A:  Oh!  So you finally finished barking at the garbage truck? Q:  We’ve been talking about the taxes that have ballooned over the years. Doggie:  And next on our list is conveyance …

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TAXWatch: The Fight Over Honolulu Vacation Rentals Begins

T he fight over short-term rentals in Honolulu has entered another phase. On June 25, 2019, Honolulu Mayor Caldwell signed into law Ordinance 2019-18, formerly known as Bill 89.  The law took effect on August 1, 2019.  Basically, if you want to operate short-term (less than 30 days) vacation rentals, either “bed and breakfast homes” where the owner also occupies …

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