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TAXWatch: Don’t Let Them Double Up!

F ollowing a major U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2018 (South Dakota v. Wayfair), many States, including ours, enacted “economic nexus” legislation, which means that we consider any business that transacts $100,000 or more in Hawaii sales or 200 or more Hawaii transactions to be subject to Hawaii tax laws, and we require such a business to comply with the …

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TAXWatch: What Really Is a Minimum Wage?

H appy New Year!  It’s now 2020 and talk already has begun about raising our minimum wage.  $10.10 an hour is not a living wage, some say, so we should be hoisting our minimum wage to say $15 or $17, which some say is the minimum required to make ends meet here in Hawaii assuming you are working 40 hours …

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TAXWatch: Cooling the Schools – The Reality

I t wasn’t long ago that, in response to numerous complaints of students sweltering in their classrooms, Governor Ige proclaimed that he would commit $100 million to cool 1,000 classrooms.  At the end of the 2016 legislative session, he signed Act 47 of 2016 appropriating the funds to the Department of Education (DOE), and in 2018 he trumpeted this accomplishment …

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TAXWatch: Red Flags at OHA

A recent, eagerly awaited independent financial review of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has been in the news lately.  The review, conducted by the California-based accounting firm CliftonLarsenAllen (“CLA”), made several observations and recommendations, including the flagging of 32 transactions, representing $7.8 million, as potentially fraudulent, wasteful, or abusive. Indeed, of the 185 transactions the firm reviewed, it had …

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TAXWatch: Ninety-One Hours in a Work Week?!

R ecently, the website howmuch.net, a financial literacy website with interesting visualizations about various financial topics, came out with a comparison called, “This is How Long You Need to Work to Live Comfortably in Every State.” Those folks tried to calculate, for each state, the annual wage required to live comfortably, by earner, and the number of hours per week …

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TAXWatch: ‘Piling On’ to Transient Vacation Rentals

P iling on, for those of you who aren’t football fans, happens when a player or group of players jump on top of a runner who already has been tackled, just to make sure the runner is not going anywhere.  The tackling team can get no advantage from piling on, and injuries can and often do result from the pile-up, …

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TAXWatch: Let’s Not Tax Transportation

S ome folks ask me if I have any radical ideas to change the tax system in Hawaii.  Here’s one: Stop taxing transportation of goods and people. Before you stop laughing uproariously, though, consider this. First, we can’t tax air transportation.  There are federal laws prohibiting us from applying a gross receipts tax (like our General Excise Tax) to transportation …

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TAXWatch: TANF – $281M Federal Money We Haven’t Spent

T his week we focus on our safety net systems for people or families in need.  In the early 1990s, a major part of this net came from the federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which matched state dollars of financial assistance for a needy family.  That program was replaced with what we have now, Temporary Assistance …

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TAXWatch: Wealth Is a Sin?

A recent op-ed column in Real Clear Politics by Scott Hodge, president of the national Tax Foundation (not related to the Tax Foundation of Hawaii although the names are similar) brought up some interesting ideas, spurred by the announced plans of Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to enact a tax on wealth. Sen. Warren’s wealth tax would …

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TAXWatch: Invasive Species Inspection Fee for Air-flown Commodities

H awai`i is an island state that is home to a unique set of flora and fauna.  It’s vulnerable to invasive species not only from foreign countries but also from the mainland United States, and our Department of Agriculture has traditionally worked hard to keep the bad stuff out.  Little fire ants? Brown tree snakes? We don’t want them, but …

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