comscore Kokua Line: Teleworking from paradise may sting come tax time | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News | Kokua Line

Kokua Line: Teleworking from paradise may sting come tax time

Question: Are people who come to Hawaii and telework for mainland companies subject to Hawaii income taxes?

Answer: Yes. “Nonresidents who telework would be subject to Hawaii income tax on the income received for serv­ices performed in Hawaii. The law does not provide any thresholds as to the duration spent in Hawaii or amount of income earned,” according to the state Department of Taxation, which cited Hawaii Revised Statutes Sec. 235-4(b); see

That section on state income taxes says that “in the case of a nonresident, the tax applies to the income received or derived from property owned, personal services performed, trade, or business carried on, and any and every other source in the State. In the case of a nonresident spouse filing a joint return with a resident spouse, the tax applies to the entire income of the nonresident spouse computed without regard to source in the state.”

Q: I mailed my 2019 taxes to the IRS in July, right before the deadline. I still haven’t received my refund. No one answers the phone. What can I do?

A: Not much for now, except to keep checking your refund status at The IRS says not to call the agency or file a second tax return.

It says that COVID-19 continues to cause delays in IRS services, including live phone support, processing tax returns filed on paper, answering mail from taxpayers and reviewing tax returns, even for returns filed electronically.

“Unfortunately, other than responding to any requests for information promptly, there’s no action you can take. We’re working hard to get through the backlog. Please don’t file a second tax return or contact the IRS about the status of your return,” the agency says on its website.

As of Nov. 24, it had 7.1 million unprocessed individual tax returns and 2.3 million unprocessed business returns, but said in an update posted Dec. 1 that it was making significant progress on the backlog. It expects to issue all refunds for 2019 individual tax returns this year, as long as there are no issues with the return.

“For refunds that cannot be issued in 2020 because the tax return is being corrected, reviewed or awaiting correspondence from a taxpayer, the refund will be issued as a paper check in 2021 per our normal processes. Taxpayers are encouraged to continue to check ‘Where’s My Refund’ (on for their personalized refund status,” the website says.

As of Dec. 1, the IRS was still processing some returns dated as early as April 15. The severity of the backlog depended on the location of the processing facility. Some facilities were caught up or almost caught up, while others were handling returns submitted last spring or summer. To even out the workload, “we are rerouting tax returns and taxpayer correspondence from locations that are behind to locations where more staff is available, and we are taking other actions to reduce this backlog,” the IRS said.

We’ve heard from other readers who said they had filed electronically but later received a mailed notice from the IRS seeking to verify their identity, to which they quickly responded. Still, that break in the electronic processing slowed down the overall processing of their return for months — and they are still waiting.

We wish we had a better answer, and will continue to seek updates from the IRS.


Mahalo to the kind man who alerted me when cash fell out of my purse at the mall, without me realizing it. It ended up being funny because he was shouting after me through his mask and running after me to try to catch up — but not all the way; he didn’t want to get too close. Once he got my attention he waved the bills and dropped them on the carpet and I went over and picked them up. Life is weird now! I appreciate his effort. — Careless shopper

Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email

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