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Surveying Hawaiʻi tax code on the eve of the 2023 legislative session

Piggy bank and savings.
Topp Yimgrimm/iStockphoto

As the 2023 legislative session gets underway, one focus will be taxes — specifically, the general excise tax. The GET, which is similar to a sales tax seen in other states, is applied to services and goods throughout the state at 4%, with counties tacking on an extra half percent.

Gov. Josh Green’s campaign proposal to cut the tax on food and medicine is already facing some political challenges.

"Green made a lot of promises. We would have to wait until the bill comes out, so we see exactly what’s being proposed. Seems unlikely that leadership in the House and the Senate, that they're going to take seriously any massive proposal to give lots of tax relief. So faced with these tremendous headwinds, his administration people are now walking back their approach. They're saying, let's talk about another tax rebate, then. Ige gave people $100 or $300 per qualified exemption, you know, maybe it's time for us to do the same since we still have a little bit more money left over in the surplus column," said Tom Yamachika, president of the watchdog nonprofit Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

Yamachika advises the public to hold onto their pocketbooks. Any tax reform or relief is still months away as the legislative session is just beginning.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 17, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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