Debating tax relief options

LIHUE — The Kauai County Council will consider today a set of seven measures that aim to reform current real property tax laws and assist some property owners who received noticeable increases on their tax bills over the past two months.

“Some of these bills interact with each other — if one passes, it might affect the other — so we should probably take them in a specific order,” County Council Vice Chair Mason Chock Sr. said.

These options, spelled out in five individual bills, include providing discounts to qualified property owners who received an increase of more than $500 on their tax bills; extending deadlines for filing exemptions and making tax payments; waiving penalties and interests for property tax payments made after current deadlines; establishing tax credits for low-income households; and placing properties with multiple uses in different tax classes based on the percentage of those uses.

Perhaps the most disputed proposal is Bill 2556, which was introduced by councilmen Ross Kagawa and Mel Rapozo three weeks ago.

If it is approved by the County Council, the measure would reinstitute the permanent home tax credit, which was repealed last year and capped future tax increases on owner-occupied homes, with the proper exemptions, at 2 percent. 

An seventh measure, outlined in Bill 2555, allocates $750,000 from the county’s reserve fund for any real property tax relief measures that will be carried out.

An eighth option proposed by Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. and his administration, Bill 2560, will be also introduced today. If it is approved, the measure would create a tenth tax class called “commercialized home use,” which would apply to those properties with multiple uses that are used as a taxpayer’s main residence and have a proper home use exemption.

The County Council will consider all eight bills during their meeting today, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Historic County Building Council Chambers.

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