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Tom Yamachika

Tom Yamachika
Tom Yamachika is the President of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a private, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to informing the taxpaying public about the finances of our state and local governments in Hawaii. Tom is also a tax attorney in solo practice and has been since early 2013. Prior to 2013, he was with the accounting firm Accuity LLP, which was formed in 2006 from the Honolulu office of Coopers & Lybrand (which later became PricewaterhouseCoopers). Before that, he served as an Administrative Rules Specialist in the State of Hawaii Department of Taxation from 1994 to 1996, where he drafted rules, interpretive releases, and legislation on several different state taxes. Prior to that, he practiced litigation and tax law with Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright in Honolulu.

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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TAXWatch: Zero-Based Budgeting

Last week, we spent some time on “variance reports,” which is how our state government agencies report differences in position count and spending from one year to the next. The agencies are also supposed to report on performance measures that they pick themselves, but sometimes still disregard this requirement. Today, we examine “zero-based budgeting,” an idea that has been around …

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TAXWatch: So Did You Meet Your Goals This Year? – Um, We Dunno

Although our legislature hasn’t opened yet, legislators are at work already. The money committees, for example, have started quizzing the various executive departments on their budget requests for the upcoming biennium (2019-2020). According to law, specifically HRS section 37-75, the agencies are supposed to come up with a “variance report” that is supposed to list how much they were budgeted, …

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TAXWatch: No, Killing a Special Fund Doesn’t Kill People

Recently, the State Auditor released Report No. 18-19, which reviewed special funds, trust funds, and trust accounts of our Department of Land and Natural Resources. Under law, the Auditor is supposed to review an agency’s special, revolving, and trust funds every five years. The review is supposed to find accounts that are not appropriately classified so that appropriate action can …

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TAXWatch: Carbon Tax – Will You Fiddle While Paris Burns?

On November 28, our state Climate Commission, consisting of 22 county and state government officials, issued a press release affirming that it supports a carbon tax “to achieve Hawaii’s ambitious and necessary emissions reduction goals.” The climate commission includes three members of the State Senate and three members of the House, so it’s a pretty good bet that a carbon …

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TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 4)

We continue with our series about a timeshare association suing Maui County seeking to invalidate its “Time Share” property classification, with the county then striking back. This week, we look at whether the property classification challenged was valid. The circuit judge on Maui’s conclusion was that it wasn’t. He concluded that under section 3.48.305 of the Maui County Code, the …

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TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 3)

We continue with our series about a timeshare association suing the county, with the county then back assessing the association for $10 million. Here we examine: “Are back assessments of property tax legal?” In most of our counties, the ordinances say that the assessor is to make a tax assessment list each year by a certain time. The county then …

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TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 2)

In last week’s article we gave some background about a case working its way through the court system.  Timeshare association sues county; county then back assesses association for $10 million. The first issue for our deep dive is, “Are we in the right court?” In this state, if you have a beef with the tax collector you can’t just go …

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TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 1)

This week we begin a series on a long and hotly litigated property tax case from Maui. This case isn’t about wind turbines like we wrote about a couple of weeks ago. This one involves timeshares. Some timeshare projects in Kaanapali were unhappy when Maui County enacted in 2004 a new Time Share property classification, effective in 2006, that was much …

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