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TAXWatch: Withholding, the Root of All Evil?

W ithholding is making someone who isn’t liable for tax, but who pays money to someone who is, responsible for collecting and paying the tax to the government.  Employers, for example, must withhold federal and state income taxes out of wages paid to their employees.  The government also makes the buyer withhold taxes on big property sales. The federal government …

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TAXWatch: A Veil of Secrecy Around Revenue Estimates

In this week’s article, we spotlight yet another attempt by a government agency to shroud its operations in the shadows. During any legislative session, our Department of Taxation furnishes a very important service to our legislators. It provides revenue estimates on various bills going through the legislative process. Sometimes it includes in its public testimony the end result—the bill will …

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TAXWatch: The Special Land and Development Fund

In this week’s spotlight is the Special Land and Development Fund or SLDF, which is administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).  Into that fund goes all land rents the State receives for land that is either leased or used under a revocable permit (such as those used by airport or harbor-based businesses).  The fund is also …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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