Thursday, February 29, 2024
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Sunday, June 1, 2014
The Hawaiian Tribe--Taxes
By Tom Yamachika @ 5:01 AM :: 4183 Views :: Taxes

The Hawaiian Tribe

by Tom Yamachika, Interim President, Tax Foundation of Hawaii

Our Office of Hawaiian Affairs was just in the news because its CEO, Dr. Kamana’opono Crabbe, wrote a letter to the U.S. Secretary of State asking for a legal opinion on Hawaii’s sovereign status. One of the key questions raised in the letter is “Does the Hawaiian Kingdom continue to exist?”

I will leave it to others to answer that question. But, supposing that the Kingdom coexists with the State of Hawaii, what tax and public finance implications can we expect?

Throughout its history the United States government has had to coexist with independent sovereign entities known as Indian tribes. During this time, rules and procedures have been adopted allowing both to exist with a fair amount of autonomy and dignity for each. The Akaka Bill that has been talked about for years aimed to reconstitute a Native Hawaiian governing entity and then have it recognized by the federal government the same way as Indian tribes are.

Typically, Indian tribes have space set aside within a State, which we call a “reservation.” On the reservation, the tribal government not only provides governance, but also provides the services necessary to maintain a civilized society. Those services, like any others provided by any other government, need to be paid for. So the tribal government has the power to impose taxes upon those living on the reservation. Those on the reservation pay tribal taxes, not State taxes or federal taxes. But neither the State nor the federal government is obligated to provide the reservation with infrastructure, police, fire protection, a militia, or anything else that people typically look to government to provide.

By the same token, anything off the reservation is part of the State. An individual living off the reservation, even though ethnically or otherwise a member of an Indian tribe, is considered a state resident and needs to pay federal and state taxes like any other state resident. This makes perfect sense because that person is a beneficiary of the services and society provided by the federal and state governments, and should pay for those services like any other person living there.

The same theories apply for the island possessions of the United States, such as Guam or American Samoa. The island has a government that imposes its own tax and provides its own services. So, for example, those living in Guam pay Guam tax, while ethnic Guamanians living in the United States pay federal and state taxes.

Applying these theories to the Native Hawaiian situation raises familiar issues. The Kingdom of Hawaii currently has neither a monarch nor anything that is generally recognized by its members as a government. That’s why the Akaka Bill proposed, and the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission is moving toward, a process for getting a number of Native Hawaiians together and having them organize themselves.

Once that happens, however, some kind of dedicated space is needed for the nation-within-a-nation model to work. We certainly hope that no one is thinking that the citizens of the reconstituted Kingdom living on state lands, and taking advantages of the benefits and services offered by the state and federal governments, will then claim they don’t have to pay for them. That’s simply not reasonable. People paid taxes in the old Kingdom, and those in the reconstituted Kingdom shouldn’t expect something different. We all need to be aware that both benefits and burdens flow from being a part of civilized society.

- 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

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

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

Practical Policy Institute of Hawaii

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