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Friday, January 14, 2011
Tax hikes? Gambling? Defeated bills from 2010 session may reappear in 2011
By Andrew Walden @ 11:41 PM :: 6446 Views :: Energy, Environment

by Andrew Walden

Governor Abercrombie and likely House Speaker Calvin Say have both come out against any across-the-board hike in the GE Tax.  But that doesn’t mean they won’t be hiking taxes to meet the state’s $800M budget shortfall.  The Star-Advertiser December 21 reports:

House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Palolo Valley-Wilhelmina Rise) called the governor's promise not to raise the general excise tax "a Christmas gift" to the people of Hawaii. He said, however, that lawmakers will likely consider lifting tax exemptions and tax credits to help balance the budget.

"It's his responsibility to come up with a balanced budget, and we will support him and help him in getting through and finding a way of getting through the budget shortfall," he said.

Senate President Shan Tsutsui (D, Kahului) said senators want to keep all options (ie the GE Tax) available.

"I think at this point, at least in the Senate, we want to keep all the options on the table," he said. "We understand the severity of the budget deficit, and we want to make sure that we don't close any doors now before we're able to deal with the budget deficit in its entirety."

What are Say’s likely revenue enhancement strategies?  The best clue would come from the bills he allowed to advance during the 2010 legislative session, most of which either abolished tax exemptions or eliminated tax credits. 

Past is future.  And here is a look a the past: Three legalized gambling bills and twelve tax hikes.

Gambling bills debated in the Legislature 2010 session:

  • HB 2759 Would have allowed gaming on Hawaiian homelands.
  • HB 146 Proposed an amendment to the Hawaii Constitution to permit gambling.
  • HB 2251 HD1 Would have allowed the gaming commission to issue one 5-year license to a casino gaming operation.

Major revenue generation bills passed by House Finance by the end of February, 2010:

  • HB1907 Relating to Taxation. Temporarily suspends the income tax net operating loss carryback deduction for losses generated in 2009 and 2010.
  • HB1926 Relating to Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. Establishes the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism Operation Special Fund for the operation of the department. Imposes a surcharge on the fees charged by certain departments for certain business- and commerce-related authorizations and services. Requires the deposit of the surcharge revenues, as well as $2 million annually from the Compliance Resolution Fund, into the special fund. Takes effect on July 1, 2010, and sunsets on June 30, 2015
  • HB2598 Relating to Transient Accommodations Tax. Caps for five years the current level of the distribution of transient accommodations tax revenues to the counties.
  • HB2850 Relating to the Liquor Tax. Temporarily increases the liquor tax rates during the period of 7/1/10 to 6/30/15.
  • HB2852 Relating to the Insurance Premium Tax. Temporarily makes the insurance premium tax applicable to mutual benefit societies and health maintenance organizations.
  • HB2866 Relating to Taxation. Retains the State's ability to "pick-up" the state death tax credit as it existed in the Internal Revenue Code before the enactment of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.
  • HB2867 Relating to Taxation. Repeals various income tax credits and deductions. Incorporates provisions of HB1588 which reduces tax credits allowable under chapters 235, 239, 241, and 431, HRS, for taxable years beginning on or after January 1, 2009 and ending before January 1, 2011.
  • HB2877 Relating to Taxation. Temporarily suspends the exemption for certain amounts of gross income or proceeds from the general excise tax and requires the payment of the tax at a one per cent rate. Takes effect on 7/01/2010 and is repealed on 6/30/2015.
  • HB2885 Relating to the Conveyance Tax. Temporarily suspends the distribution of a portion of the conveyance tax to the land conservation fund and rental housing trust fund. Reduces distribution to the natural area reserve fund.
  • HB2887 Relating to Tobacco Settlement Moneys. Transfers temporarily to the general fund the portion of moneys from the Hawaii tobacco settlement special fund designated for the Hawaii tobacco prevention and control trust fund.
  • HB2962 Relating to Taxation. Temporarily defers deductions against a taxpayer's net income tax liability for claims under the Technology Infrastructure Renovation Tax Credit and High Technology Business Investment Tax Credit between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013.
  • HB2984 Relating to Tax Credits. Extends the tax credit for research activities for 1 year. Repeals remaining tax credit provisions of Act 221, Session Laws of Hawaii 2001.

To read the complete bill description, the bills can be searched by number online at http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2010/. Type in the bill number to get the text and the testimony.

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