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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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TAXWatch: Thirty Years of State Tax, Part 1

Q:  The number 30 has been in the news a lot these days because of the telescope that’s supposed to be getting built on the Big Island.  This week, we’re going to look at the past 30 years of state tax. To help me is our intrepid researcher, the Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie’s wife. A:  Glad to be here. …

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TAXWatch: Loophole? On the Way to the Top

O n Wednesday, August 14, the Senate Committee on Hawaiian Affairs held an “informational briefing” so senators could question the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands over various topics, including on “Mauna Kea Access Road (ACT 14).” The Star-Advertiser summarized the issue:  “About 50 years ago, the Department of Transportation built Mauna Kea Access Road over Department of Hawaiian Home Lands …

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TAXWatch: Soft on Crime – Because of the Money

In the news recently was a stunning announcement by Justin Kollar, who is the Kauai County Prosecutor.  State law says that for folks driving without a license or driving without insurance, heavier fines and more jail time apply to repeat offenders.  He said that he has decided to prosecute all cases under his watch as first-time offender cases, no matter …

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