TAX MAN: More temporary tax fixes being considered

The elections have been held. We know who the new Representatives and Senators are. The Hawaii legislative session doesn’t open until Wednesday, January 18th, but you’d better believe that legislators have been busy already.

TAX MAN: Today we search for Legislature tax ideas

Now that the New Year is off and running and we are quaking in our boots waiting for our Legislature to reconvene, here are some of the ideas that we have been following. We’ve put them into a Word Find puzzle for your amusement.

TAX MAN: We’ve yet to learn how to earn a procurement exemption

This week, we are focusing on the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA). They have been trying to award a tourism marketing contract worth tens of millions of dollars, as they have for the past several years. In the past, that contract has always gone to the Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), but this time around, there were a few twists and turns.

TAX MAN: What it takes to spend $600M on housing in three years

As we have written about before, last year’s Legislature approved $600 million to our Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) to reduce the monstrous waiting list of Hawaiians waiting for homestead lands. The catch, however, is that DHHL needs to spend the money, or enter into a contract to spend it, by June 30, 2025. Otherwise, the money goes back to the general fund.

TAX MAN: New administration has tax priorities

In a recent interview with Hawaii News Now, Governor-elect Josh Green outlined the top priorities he has for his first 100 days in office, presumably including the start of this year’s legislative session.

TAX MAN: Want to fight corruption? Follow the money

In a recent op-ed in Civil Beat, Robert Harris, who recently became the executive director of the Hawaii State Ethics Commission, mused about his role in the grand scheme of things. His first reaction was to describe his job as just enforcing the State Ethics Code and the Lobbying Law, but then saw a broader role for his agency as helping to restore public trust in government.

TAX MAN: Getting permitting out of home maintenance

This week we continue to focus on the City and County of Honolulu, where efforts are under way to deal with the highly backlogged state of affairs at our Department of Planning and Permitting. As we’ve previously reported, a 2020 City audit (Report No. 20-01) (Exhibit 4.3) found that a typical residential building permit application took 108 days to process, while one for a commercial project ($1 - $10 million) took 432 days. That is a very long time to be just waiting for a permit.

TAX MAN: The O‘ahu empty homes tax is on ice for now

One of the ideas that has been kicking around in the state and county legislatures for a couple of years now is the idea of an “empty homes tax.” The idea seems to be gaining steam now since our federal court has struck down Honolulu’s recent ordinance clamping down on transient vacation rentals.

TAX MAN: Are ‘dedicated funding sources’ really dedicated? Nah

I’m sometimes asked how we can achieve true fiscal reform here in the Aloha State. It’s easy to imagine an end goal, with government spending within its means and with no gargantuan liabilities (the big two are the State’s defined benefit pension plan and the EUTF health system for state retirees) hanging over our heads like swords of Damocles.

TAX MAN: Yes, people move because of excessive taxes

This week, we focus on a study that has just come out of the national Tax Foundation (with whom the Tax Foundation of Hawaii shares a name but not much else). That study looks at IRS and census data to see if tax considerations affect people’s decisions to move from one state and to another.

TAX MAN: Our kids are going away

We at the Foundation have been warning lawmakers for several years now that our state has been losing people. News media and some local nonprofits have been trying to find out why. The people leaving have said that they are unable to make ends meet here between the high cost of living and taxes.