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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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TAXWatch: Oh? Can’t We Keep HART’s Funding Sources ‘Pure’?

Recently, there has been fierce debate over Bill 42 before the Honolulu City Council. Here’s the background: In 2007, the City passed Ordinance 07-001, which says that the Honolulu rail project would be funded only with proceeds of the general excise tax surcharge and federal money. “We’ll never touch the real property tax to build rail,” the politicians said at …

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TAXWatch: It’s Real Property Because We Said So!

Today we look at a case now pending in the Hawaii Supreme Court that may give us some insight on county real property taxes and their limits. Once upon a time there were a couple of companies that constructed some large wind turbines on mountain ridges on Maui. The wind farms aren’t cheap. The first one built, on the West …

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TAXWatch: Take-Aways from the ‘Con-Am’ Argument

On October 18, 2018, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held oral argument on a petition by the four counties to invalidate the “Con-Am,” namely the constitutional amendment ballot measure that would allow the State to slap a “surcharge,” essentially an additional property tax, on “investment” real property. We now know that the Court invalidated the ballot measure with an opinion …

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