Friday, January 15, 2021
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, May 10, 2020
Crossing the Rubicon Into Tax Suspension
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:00 AM :: 1541 Views :: Taxes, COVID-19

Crossing the Rubicon Into Tax Suspension

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

In an article in this space just a couple of weeks ago, we growled and grumbled about the possibility that our Governor, having already suspended laws and chapters in the Hawaii Revised Statutes in a listing seventeen pages long, would start monkeying with the tax code.

At the time, however, the Governor hadn’t touched the tax code at all.

That just changed.

In a “Sixth Supplementary Proclamation Amending and Restating Prior Proclamations and Executive Orders Related to the COVID-19 Emergency,” our Governor crossed the Rubicon. Buried on the 19th page of a 68-page the document is a sentence suspending “Section 237D-6.5(b), distribution of the transient accommodations tax.”

What does that do?

That section specifies how moneys collected from the Transient Accommodations Tax are to be distributed. It is chock full of earmarks. It now requires portions of the tax to be sent to the Hawaii Tourism Authority for tourism marketing and promotion; to the counties; to the Department of Land and Natural Resources for protection, preservation, maintenance, and enhancement of natural resources, including beaches, important to the visitor industry; to the Hawaii Convention Center; and to paying off the cost of the Turtle Bay conservation easement.

Suspension of the section means that all these earmarks have been thrown out the window. The money from the TAT, although perhaps a whole lot less than the money that used to come in from the TAT in prior years, is going to go where the Governor wants it to go.

This foray into the tax code with the suspension pen will create victims. The most likely targets are the counties. For at least a half dozen years, the counties and the state have been bickering about how much TAT money the counties are going to take home. The latest version of the code gives them $103 million annually, with Honolulu getting 44.1%, Maui 22.8%, the Big Island 18.6%, and Kauai 14.5%. That has now come to a screeching halt. As a result, the counties may discover that they are going to have gaping holes in their budgets, which will mean greatly increased pressure on county lawmakers to make up for it by revenue enhancement measures. Such as property tax increases.

At the same time, we at the Foundation are wondering how the suspension of tax law could possibly be called for by the emergency. The emergency powers statute, HRS section 127A-13(a)(3), allows for suspension of “any law that impedes or tends to impede or be detrimental to the expeditious and efficient execution of, or to conflict with, emergency functions.” What does distribution of transient accommodations tax money have to do with the execution of emergency functions? Are they saying they can’t pay our emergency workers without this money grab from the counties? What about all the other money that is coming in from all the other taxes, like the corporate income tax, the personal income tax, and the general excise tax? And aren’t many of the first responders, such as fire and police departments, ambulance paramedics, and lifeguards, on county payrolls? Does it matter at all that the dollars that might go to pay them are getting swiped?

When Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon in 49 BC, he went on to become dictator. Is our governor thinking about a similar path? In the ensuing weeks, we will see what is waiting for him on the other side of the river.


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii


Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes


Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii


National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii