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Hawaii mayors want surcharge on general excise tax

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 02:15 p.m. HST, Jan 15, 2014

KAILUA-KONA >> Mayors across Hawaii say they'd like a way to be able to raise the general excise tax in their counties.

The Hawaii Council of Mayors is asking the Legislature to allow counties to add a surcharge of up to 1 percent to the state GET.

Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi said mayors want the flexibility to raise the tax with a surcharge instead of having to go through the Legislature every year for a greater share of the transient accommodations tax, West Hawaii Today reported today. "Nobody's proposing to raise the excise tax," he said.

Visitors pay about one-third of the general excise tax, Kenoi noted.

The Legislature has reduced counties' share of the transient accommodations tax, which counties rely on to defray costs from tourists' wear and tear on infrastructure and burden on county services. Counties have been unsuccessful in attempts to restore the TAT to former levels.

The state GET is currently at 4 percent. Honolulu has a half-cent surcharge to help pay for its rail transit project.

Having a GET surcharge would give the county more flexibility to raise money for infrastructure, Kenoi said.

If the bill prevails, counties can raise the surcharge by ordinance at the county level.

The mayors' council and the Hawaii State Association of Counties have agreed to present a unified package to the Legislature. The 2014 regular legislative session convened today.

"HSAC and HCOM are piggybacking on each other," said Hawaii County Councilman Dennis Onishi of Hilo, who is also vice president for HSAC.

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blackmurano wrote:
Hell no!!!! No surcharge. Once the Mayors get their foot in the door of 1% on the general excise tax, it'll keep on raising their surcharge in future years that it'll hit the tax payers of this state pocket book badly. Damm Democrats!!! that's all they do, raise taxes instead of cutting them. . .
on January 15,2014 | 01:21PM
pcman wrote:
IRT Black on Dems. I am not a Dem but I prefer a 1% GET rather than an increase of property tax. Why should 30% of the people have to pay for the infrastructure for 100% of the people and tourists. Increased property taxes are hardest on retired folks living on social security and retirement pay.
on January 16,2014 | 08:44AM
Jerry_D wrote:
The way our general excise tax system works, the entire state of Hawaii is already taxed heavier than most (if not all) other states! Although we as consumers see only a 4% or 4.5% tax at the cash register (which we incorrectly refer to as "sales tax," though it is more than just that), each and every supplier in the supply chain is also taxed by the state. So in actuality, the state receives, perhaps, closer to 9% in tax revenues for every product we purchase.
on January 15,2014 | 01:33PM
GeoDiva wrote:
If the goods are going to be resold, then each person in the supply chain only pays 0.5% wholesale GET. So its only the final end user that pays the 4.712%.
on January 15,2014 | 01:39PM
Hitaxpayer wrote:
Jerry the Hawaii Tax Foundation estimated that if the GET was a sales tax it would be the equivalent between 10 and 11%, If you exclude food it would have to be between 16 and 17%. Those numbers assume a 4% get not the 4.5% on Oahu
on January 15,2014 | 01:53PM
New Jersey, aka the "Garden State", has a 7% retail sales tax and the highest real estate taxes in the USA. Even though parts of the sales tax are supposed to be used for specific, dedicated purposes, our larded governor has raided the tax for other purposes.
on January 15,2014 | 03:31PM
sailfish1 wrote:
The tax the Oahu consumer pays at he cash register is 4.712%, not the 4.5% tat you say.
on January 15,2014 | 07:30PM
rhiro wrote:
Allowing the counties to impose a surcharge also has an extremely negative impact on small businesses. Hawaii has the fifth highest ratio of government employees as a percentage of its total population in the nation. Our government should strive to promote the formation and expansion of private businesses, instead of having so many government jobs. Additionally, Hawaii's property tax rates are among the lowest in the nation. The counties are in charge of their own property tax rates, so raise more money there. Stop hurting private businesses who are actually trying to improve the economy.
on January 15,2014 | 01:41PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
Maybe the State needs to allow the counties to keep 100% of the share of their own counties' transient taxes. State has a surplus now. So politics can be left out of the mix.
on January 15,2014 | 02:45PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Good idea but good luck.
on January 15,2014 | 03:08PM
lee1957 wrote:
Terrible idea, but good luck.
on January 15,2014 | 05:44PM
harley1 wrote:
on January 15,2014 | 07:21PM
Anonymous wrote:
The tax the Oahu consumer pays at he cash register is 4.712%, not the 4.5% tat you say.
on January 15,2014 | 07:29PM
SteveToo wrote:
There you go folks keep electing Democrats and what do you get? Higher taxes.
on January 15,2014 | 08:12PM
Wazdat wrote:
"Nobody's proposing to raise the excise tax,"

HELLO mick fly that is what you are asking for more taxes. sheez

on January 15,2014 | 08:40PM
fairgame947 wrote:
absolutely NOT!!!!
on January 15,2014 | 08:54PM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
There they go again.
on January 15,2014 | 09:14PM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
Keep in mind that we already know what happens when the State collects and redistributes the money back to Oahu. They do it with the Oahu specific rail tax and the money is always late and always less then it's supposed to be.

on January 15,2014 | 09:23PM
kahuku01 wrote:
Well naturally Kalaheo1, it's a known fact that the state tax office handles the 1/2% surcharge GET tax mandated for the city's rail system and why is the money late and always less than it supposed to be? Because the state takes their 10% annual cut from the collected 1/2% surcharge GET tax and that is why it's always less and that is exactly what will happen if the counties lobby for the state legislature to increase the GET surcharge to 1%. The state will somehow take their cut from that 1% surcharge increase on the GET and Oahu residents will end up paying another 1% besides the 1/2% surcharge for the rail. Get a grip mayors, learn to budget and continue to go through legislature every year for a greater share of the transient accommodation tax instead of proposing an easier way of obtaining funds for more flexibility to raise money for infrastructure.
on January 16,2014 | 04:20AM
FluidMotion wrote:
I already pay a third of my paycheck to taxes. Democrats will never be happy until they tax the middle class into poverty. Then we'll all be dependent on our precious government.
on January 16,2014 | 02:26AM
mitt_grund wrote:
Disingenuous and stupid remark by Mayor Kenoi. Imposing a surcharge on the GET is NOT an increase?!!!! How stupid does he think his public is???? Playing on semantics and use of other words for tax increase are SOP for our glib, arrogant politicians. They should all be forced to jump off the cliffs of Molokai like Hawaiian lemmings into the sea.
on January 16,2014 | 02:32AM
kahuku01 wrote:
mitt_grund: That shows you the mentality of these wanna-be elected and appointed officials that have no clue as to what they're proposing or really want. They're more confused then the average citizen including the homeless.
on January 16,2014 | 04:30AM
Sandybeach wrote:
Good article but it does not explain what a surcharge really is. A surcharge is a tax upon an already existing tax. Consequently, the proposal is to tax a tax. That's like putting lipstick on a pig. It serves no purpose and it angers the pig. If you want to raise the GET then do it at the State Legislature. Good time to start is now. I believe that they are in session.
on January 16,2014 | 05:25AM
LanaUlulani wrote:

In other words these psychos want more money in the form of taxes to go to GOVERNMENT instead of to the keiki and mo'opuna.

on January 16,2014 | 05:28AM
fbg wrote:
The Hawaii General Excise Tax is onerous and regressive enough already without compounding the problem at the local level. Since this tax is on everything (including all services drugs and food) it compounds the amount collected from our residents to an amount that is more than California's 7.5 to 10% sales tax. Further, California does not tax drugs, food, or services. It has long been estimated that our seemingly low 4% tax rate is equivalent to a more than 11% tax rate when compared to other states that do not apply this tax to services, food, or prescription drugs. It should be well known that such a tax, which hits the most basic of necessities, will hit the least able to pay the hardest. The counties already have a property tax to collect money and do not yet need another source that is even more regressive. This only serves to obscure and confuse the real issues. Sooner or later you can't even tell which of your pockets the politicians are filching from.
on January 16,2014 | 06:18AM
Locokane wrote:
The current Legislature session should remove the cap on the transient accommodations tax (TAT) which is mostly given to the Hawaii Travel Authority(HTA) which receives over $100M annually. HTA uses the money to fund out of state advertising companies and out of state employees which helps to supplement he Hawaii tourist industries advertise our State. The main benefactor of the TAT funds are the multi-billion dollar hotels which should spend their own money to advertise Hawaii. In my travels all over the world, I have yet to meet someone who doesn't know or want to visit or revisit Hawaii. More advertising doesn't encourage more travel to Hawaii, it's low airfares and cheaper hotel rates (yes, we compete with NYC for the nation's highest hotel rates).
on January 16,2014 | 07:20AM
Dimbulb wrote:
1% will only be the beginning. Next it will be 2%. At some point government needs to cut back on services and employees. Sooner or later government will become too expensive for the people it's supposed to serve.
on January 16,2014 | 07:29AM
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