Far too many fees and taxes
We recently took a three-day trip to Honolulu to watch my granddaughter play in the state high school softball playoffs. A couple of weeks ago, I made all the arrangements, including flights, hotel and rental car.
By the time I completed all of that, I was amazed at all the different fees and taxes that we have to pay just for a simple, three-day getaway.
• On the airline tickets we pay federal excise tax, passenger segment fee and Sept. 11 security fee;
• On the rental car we pay: concessionaire fee, customer facility charge, frequent mile program and highway use fee, vehicle license fee and, of course, the general excise tax (with all of that paid for separately, the basic charge for the car must be close to all profit).
• Then for the hotel we pay the GET and the transient accommodations tax. If it weren’t for the “kama‘aina special” we’d also be paying for daily parking and, of course, the “resort fee” (BTW, why isn’t that just included in the cost for the room?).
All of this is so overwhelming, especially to us local folks who just want to take a few days off the island and (face it brah) a chance to eat some different ono food (Zippy’s, Highway Inn, Red Lobster, Shirokiya, or even Denny’s.)
But of all these extra costs, the one that really stands out, and is the biggest of them, is the TAT. That’s an additional 10.25 percent tacked on to your hotel bill.
Although “files.hawaii.gov” does not explain why we pay the TAT, we all know that the a portion of the TAT collected by the state is distributed to the four counties. That money is used by the counties to maintain county facilities that are heavily used by the “transients” (tourists).
Oh! But wait. As residents of the state of Hawaii, don’t we already pay for all of that through our state income tax (which tourists don’t pay)? And through our property taxes (which tourists don’t pay)? And through the GET, which we pay for everything just to live?
With this letter, I’m proposing that perhaps one of our “representatives” to our state Legislature would draft up and present a bill to exempt all residents of Hawaii from paying the transient accommodations tax.
I realize that this will surely result in a decrease in TAT revenues, but the shortage can easily be made up with an additional increase in the TAT rate that will affect visitors and not the residents of our state. This would not relieve us of being the highest-taxed state, but it would surely be a good start.
I would bet that any elected official that would propose a bill such as this, and got it passed, would likely guarantee himself or herself a reelection for a few years.
Larry Joseph Arruda, Kapaa