Opinion

TAXWatch: Judgments Aren’t Necessarily the End of Litigation

Several online travel companies engaged in protracted litigation against the Department of Taxation over whether and to what extent they are liable for Hawaii General Excise and Transient Accommodations Taxes on hotel accommodations that they sold to third parties on their respective platforms.  The litigation spanned multiple years, resulted in one exhaustive Hawaii Supreme Court opinion, In re Travelocity.com, Inc., …

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TAXWatch: Post Those Tax Returns, Darn It!

One of the more debate-worthy bills at our Legislature (Senate Bill 94) involves requiring candidates for President and Vice President of the United States to post their tax returns on the Internet.  If they don’t, the bill says, they won’t appear on the Hawaii ballot and even if they somehow win, the folks that we send to the Electoral College …

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TAXWatch: Blank the Amount, Defect the Date

If you’re following bills as they move through our legislature, there are a couple of practices that we need you to know about. Often, committee chairs will refer to one or both of these practices when they move bills forward. Each bill must have an effective date so that we know when it starts doing what it is supposed to …

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TAXWatch: Can’t You Spare Half a Penny for Education?

“Friends!  Romans!  Countrymen!  We desperately need to lift our public schools and our namesake university into the 21st Century.  Senate Bill 1474 will do this by a teensy little increase of half a percent to our general excise tax (“GET”), and by establishing two special funds for the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii that will give a …

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TAXWatch: Beware of Tax Software?

Well, we’re in the thick of tax season!  It’s that time of year when individuals, gritting and gnashing their teeth, scour through their financial records and begin the arduous process of completing their 2018 federal and state tax returns. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind when filling out your Hawaii return.  Do not assume that specialized computer tax …

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TAXWatch: Individual Development Accounts, Version 2.0

Individual Development Accounts, a program that seems to be gaining traction at our Legislature, is a way to help lower-income people build self-sufficiency. Under conventional welfare rules, applicants for public assistance are awarded assistance based on need, which means that if the applicants have assets that could be sold or used to support the applicant, benefits are either reduced or …

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TAXWatch: Squirreling Away Money at the Dept. of Transportation

Well, it looks like the Hawaii State Watch Doggie has woken up from his nap.  A:  Hey!  Keeping watch is hard work! Q:  Undoubtedly.  So what are you reading there?  It looks like an Auditor’s report — “Review of Special Funds, Revolving Funds, Trust Funds, and Trust Accounts of the Department of Transportation.” A:  Oh, yes. It’s an outrage.  Q:  What’s …

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TAXWatch: Creativity Abounds at our Legislature, Pt. 2

This week, we are continuing our coverage of creative tax-related bills at our legislature.  The Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie is taking a nap at the moment so I’ll continue without him. Let’s start with the revenue raisers.  SB 1373 raises the GET rate.  At least that one is straightforward and easy to understand.  SB 1474 raises the GET rate …

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TAXWatch: Creativity Abounds at our Legislature

This year, our legislature once again is poised to consider revenue raising – namely, taxes in new and creative ways.  For a different perspective on the issue, we’re asking the Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie, who has been going through the hundreds of introduced bills. Q:        So do you see any new and unusual revenue raisers there?  A:        Woof!  Arf!  …

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TAXWatch: DOE’s Repair Backlog Is How Much Again?

In a budget briefing at the legislature at about this time last year, Department of Education officials reported that their backlog of repair and maintenance jobs was $293 million, and they were patting themselves on the back because it was a significant drop from the $392 million reported in 2010. This year, the backlog is $868 million – nearly triple …

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