Sunday, September 24, 2023
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, April 27, 2014
Do You Know the Meaning of ‘Temporary’?
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:01 AM :: 3880 Views :: Taxes

Do You Know the Meaning of ‘Temporary’?

by Tom Yamachika, Interim President, Tax Foundation of Hawaii

Yes, to you and me it’s a common word. But in the world of Hawaii tax it seems to have an entirely different meaning.

Let’s take as an example our hotel room tax. When lawmakers initially passed it, it was to be a temporary 5% tax on hotel rooms to fund construction of the Hawaii convention center. Once the center was built, they said, the tax will go away.

That was in 1986.

And by the way, the tax isn't a mere 5% any more. Just last year, lawmakers were considering the “temporary” increase from 7.25% to 9.25% that they had approved a few years earlier, and they decided they couldn’t live without the revenue. So they made the 9.25% rate permanent. Isn’t 28 years a long time for a tax that was supposed to be temporary?

This session lawmakers are considering the fate of a tax that is imposed on each barrel of petroleum products. It started off at a nickel per barrel to create a fund for environmental cleanup to be used if a disaster like the Exxon Valdez ever were to take place off our shores.

In 2009, lawmakers raised the nickel to $1.05, an increase of 2000%. This was to be a temporary increase because the state had fallen upon tough economic times, and it is supposed to disappear on July 1, 2015. Surprise, surprise! Two bills that are still alive this session would extend the life of the higher rate for fifteen more years. That would mean higher prices for everything involving petroleum products, including gasoline and electricity (guess what we burn to generate electricity).

At the legislature, it was pointed out that the many special funds that are fed by this tax support a variety of environment related programs and services in the Department of Land and Natural Resources and the Department of Health. Those departments came out in force, begging lawmakers to not scrap the tax for that would lead to the demise of those programs and services. (This, to us, doesn’t make sense because the same programs and services can be paid for with general fund money. That money is still green, right?) Environmental activist groups, not wanting those programs and services to be trashed, also came out in strong support of the bills. Only the Tax Foundation of Hawaii was there to remind lawmakers about the history of this tax and that it was given a sunset date for a reason.

Of course, the fun doesn't stop there. You might recall that in 2009, lawmakers, again citing hard times, passed a temporary increase in our individual income tax rates. They also added a few other temporary nasty features like an absolute limit on itemized deductions for individuals with adjusted gross income exceeding certain amounts. The enhanced tax and the nasty features are supposed to go away on December 31, 2015. As far as we could tell, there were no bills this session that seriously suggested extending this tax increase. But we really need to watch what happens next session, especially since this year is an election year and next year isn’t. Any tax that is supposed to be temporary deserves to be watched very carefully, because the meaning of a temporary tax sometimes is quite different from what you and I may think.

- 30 -


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

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 ConCon Info

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Matters

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



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Moms for Liberty

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

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

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

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