Monday, March 25, 2019
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Saturday, October 20, 2018
HSTA Property Tax: Two Wolves Fight Over Dinner
By Robert Thomas @ 2:12 AM :: 1802 Views :: Education K-12, Ethics, Labor, Taxes

HAWSCT Removes Property Tax ... Oops, "Surcharge on Investment Real Property" - Measure From The Ballot

by Robert Thomas, InverseCondemnation, October 19, 2018

What, you may ask, does the challenge by Hawaii's counties to the proposed constitutional amendment which was on the ballot (until just a few minutes ago) have to do with the usual topics of this blog?

Not a whole lot (although we do cover property tax and election law issues occasionally), but as always, there's a takings hook. Read to the end. 

The ballot measure proposed to amend the Hawaii Constitution's property tax provision (article VIII) which currently delegates to the counties the exclusive power to levy property taxes. The measure, proposed by the legislature read:

Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education? 

The counties, offended that the State would horn in on their property tax monopoly, challenged the ballot question as misleading. This would be a dilution of the counties' property taxation power, not merely authority for a "surcharge" whatever that might be. And what does "investment property" mean? 

Oral arguments held earlier this week, order removing the question from the ballot issued today. 

Two thoughts:

  • First, when the Attorney General responds to a question from a justice that if the ballot was unclear, then the voter should vote "no" on the measure, it's game over, man, game over. As the Star-Advertiser wrote: "Associate Justice Paula Nakayama asked if she bought a home for her daughter to live in, whether that would be considered investment property. Suzuki said that it would be left up to the Legislature to define that term. 'So how is a person supposed to vote on this?' asked Nakayama. 'How do I know as a voter that that’s not going to be taxed?' 'Then I think you should probably vote ‘no,’' Suzuki responded, surprising some in the courtroom and prompting laughter." Listen here to that exchange. They say it's hard to win a case in oral argument, but easy to lose it. This proves the maxim. 
  • Second, we're not completely on board with some members of the court who professed to not understand what "investment property" means. After all, this is the same court that just a few months ago unanimously concluded that a Maui property owner who was denied all use of his land by conflicting County regulations and could not build his home on a parcel zoned "residential," did not suffer a taking because he retained "investment use," which the court defined as a property having some present value because the owner may have hope that in the future, the County might change its regulations to allow development. The court seemed to have no problem at all in that case understanding what "investment real property" looked like. (There's your takings hook, folks.) What is "investment property," in the court's view? It's all investment property, man. 

This case was a fight between two wolves over what's for dinner. The lambs (the voters and taxpayers) didn't have much of a say as usual, and portions of the arguments revealed what these folks think about the intelligence of the average Hawaii voter: 

"The average voter would not even know what a surcharge is. Some voters don’t even know what real property is,” Honolulu Corporation Counsel Donna Leong told the court.

Seriously? How many people don't know what "real property" is? 

The court merely issued an order today, and we'll have more understanding of the rationale when it issues its full opinion. 


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

808 State Update AM940


ACA Signups Hawaii


Affordable Hawaii Coalition


Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Conservative Alliance

Aloha Life Advocates

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

American Mothers of Hawaii



Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Audit The Rail

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii 

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

CAFR Hawaii

Castaway Conservative

Children's Alliance Hawaii

Children's Rights Institute

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Citizens for Recall

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

Conservative Forum for Hawaii

CSIS Pacific Forum

DAR Hawaii

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

E Māua Ola i Moku o Keawe

Farmers For Choice Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Get Off Your Butts!

God, Freedom, America

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aganst Assisted Suicide

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 Crime Victims' Rights

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defending Marriage

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Families for Educational Choice

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Firearm Community

Hawaii Fishermen's Alliance

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii Meth Project

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Right to Life -- Big Island

Hawaii Right to Life -- Oahu

Hawaii Shield Law Coalition

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HI Coalition Against Legalized Gambling



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Homeless Crisis

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

Horns of Jericho Blog

House Minority Blog

House Republican Caucus YouTube


Hump Day Report

Hunting, Farming and Fishing Assoc.

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

Judgepedia Hawaii

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 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

Ohana Policy Group

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

Salvage The Rail

Save the Plastic Bag

School Choice in Hawaii

SIFE Remington

SIFE W. Oahu 

Sink the Jones Act

Smart About Marijuana--Hawaii

St Marianne Cope

State Budget Solutions Hawaii

State Policy Network

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Harriet Tubman Agenda

The Long War Journal

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Truth About Trade & Technology - Hawaii

UCC Truths

Union Members Know Your Rights

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

Valor in the Pacific

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii