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Tom Yamachika

Tom Yamachika
Tom Yamachika is the President of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii, a private, nonprofit educational organization dedicated to informing the taxpaying public about the finances of our state and local governments in Hawaii. Tom is also a tax attorney in solo practice and has been since early 2013. Prior to 2013, he was with the accounting firm Accuity LLP, which was formed in 2006 from the Honolulu office of Coopers & Lybrand (which later became PricewaterhouseCoopers). Before that, he served as an Administrative Rules Specialist in the State of Hawaii Department of Taxation from 1994 to 1996, where he drafted rules, interpretive releases, and legislation on several different state taxes. Prior to that, he practiced litigation and tax law with Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright in Honolulu.

TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 3)

We continue with our series about a timeshare association suing the county, with the county then back assessing the association for $10 million. Here we examine: “Are back assessments of property tax legal?” In most of our counties, the ordinances say that the assessor is to make a tax assessment list each year by a certain time. The county then …

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TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 2)

In last week’s article we gave some background about a case working its way through the court system.  Timeshare association sues county; county then back assesses association for $10 million. The first issue for our deep dive is, “Are we in the right court?” In this state, if you have a beef with the tax collector you can’t just go …

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TAXWatch: The County Strikes Back (Part 1)

This week we begin a series on a long and hotly litigated property tax case from Maui. This case isn’t about wind turbines like we wrote about a couple of weeks ago. This one involves timeshares. Some timeshare projects in Kaanapali were unhappy when Maui County enacted in 2004 a new Time Share property classification, effective in 2006, that was much …

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TAXWatch: Oh? Can’t We Keep HART’s Funding Sources ‘Pure’?

Recently, there has been fierce debate over Bill 42 before the Honolulu City Council. Here’s the background: In 2007, the City passed Ordinance 07-001, which says that the Honolulu rail project would be funded only with proceeds of the general excise tax surcharge and federal money. “We’ll never touch the real property tax to build rail,” the politicians said at …

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TAXWatch: It’s Real Property Because We Said So!

Today we look at a case now pending in the Hawaii Supreme Court that may give us some insight on county real property taxes and their limits. Once upon a time there were a couple of companies that constructed some large wind turbines on mountain ridges on Maui. The wind farms aren’t cheap. The first one built, on the West …

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TAXWatch: Take-Aways from the ‘Con-Am’ Argument

On October 18, 2018, the Supreme Court of Hawaii held oral argument on a petition by the four counties to invalidate the “Con-Am,” namely the constitutional amendment ballot measure that would allow the State to slap a “surcharge,” essentially an additional property tax, on “investment” real property. We now know that the Court invalidated the ballot measure with an opinion …

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TAXWatch: Do We Really Have a Spending Ceiling?

This week, we look at another provision that was passed by the 1978 Constitutional Convention to assure our fiscal health—and what our lawmakers have done to marginalize it. As we mentioned in June, Hawaii Constitution Article VII, sections 8 and 9 limit general fund expenditures by an “expenditure ceiling.”  It says that the Legislature is to establish a General Fund expenditure ceiling …

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TAXWatch: Whither the General Income Tax Credit?

Those of us who are getting along in years may remember the “general income tax credit,” a line on our state income tax return where we could claim a one-dollar credit. The saga of this credit tells us a little about a bold move undertaken in the 1978 Constitutional Convention and our lawmakers’ reaction, which was to beat it into …

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TAXWatch: Guess Which Agency May Be Forgoing Millions in Federal Dollars?

One article that recently appeared in the Star-Advertiser was titled, “State forgoing millions in federal reimbursements.” The state agency referred to in that article was our Department of Education. We have children from indigent families in our school system. Some of them, especially in special education, can and do benefit when they receive services from health professionals. When that happens, …

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TAXWatch: Guess Which Agency Can Impose State Tax?

Lots of the controversy swirling around the ballot measure seeking to impose a “surcharge” on investment property to support public education involves our Department of Education. The DOE currently receives an appropriation from the State’s General Fund of about $2 billion and is also able to pull from other funding sources such as federal funds. But did you know that …

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