Breaking News

Opinion

TAXWatch: TANF – $281M Federal Money We Haven’t Spent

T his week we focus on our safety net systems for people or families in need.  In the early 1990s, a major part of this net came from the federal Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program, which matched state dollars of financial assistance for a needy family.  That program was replaced with what we have now, Temporary Assistance …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Wealth Is a Sin?

A recent op-ed column in Real Clear Politics by Scott Hodge, president of the national Tax Foundation (not related to the Tax Foundation of Hawaii although the names are similar) brought up some interesting ideas, spurred by the announced plans of Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders to enact a tax on wealth. Sen. Warren’s wealth tax would …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Invasive Species Inspection Fee for Air-flown Commodities

H awai`i is an island state that is home to a unique set of flora and fauna.  It’s vulnerable to invasive species not only from foreign countries but also from the mainland United States, and our Department of Agriculture has traditionally worked hard to keep the bad stuff out.  Little fire ants? Brown tree snakes? We don’t want them, but …

Read More »

TAXWatch: An Expensive Charter Crisis on Maui

M aui has figured out a way to bleed cash from its budget very quickly.  It’s called a “Charter Crisis.” It pits one part of government against another one.  Lawyers then are needed to represent one or both warring parties, and when those lawyers get paid, there’s a good chance that taxpayers will end up footing the bill. A case …

Read More »

TAXWatch: The Parable of the Two Horses!

T he Hawaii State Tax Watch Doggie at long last has made his son put down his smartphone. Son:  Dad, I’m a little old for bedtime stories. Doggie:  Hush and listen!  And don’t fall asleep on me, darn it! Two horses that were sent to different towns, Harburg and Tarburg.  The folks in the different towns needed the horse to …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Saving the Legislature from Itself!

T his week we look at the State Auditor’s recent follow-up report, Report No. 19-14, on the Motion Picture, Digital Media, and Film Production income tax credit.  It notes that when the Auditor’s office previously took up the issue, in Report No. 16-08, the Auditor took the Department of Taxation to task for allowing out-of-state production related expenses to qualify …

Read More »

TAXWatch: Business Fees Go Down! –Huh?

I n the news recently was a story about business and licensing fees actually going down.   These fees were imposed by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA).  The money from those fees was funneled to special funds that were supposed to assist with the costs of regulating the industries to which they pertained, namely financial institutions, the cable …

Read More »

TAXWatch: The Strange Case of Bank of America

O nce upon a time, there was a big bank called Bank of America.  It wanted to try doing business in Hawaii, since it was already in many of the other western states, so it reached a deal to buy Honolulu Federal (do you remember HonFed?) and took over all of their branches in Hawaii.  This was in 1992.   In …

Read More »

TAXWatch: If Housing Costs in Honolulu Are Bad Now…

T he cost of having four walls and a roof over your head in Honolulu has been staggeringly expensive relative to the rest of the nation for a while now.  The median price of a single-family home on Oahu in July reached $835,000, while the median price of a condominium rose to $460,000, according to a report from Honolulu real …

Read More »

TAXWatch: They’re Taking Their Business Elsewhere

A few months ago, we tried to remind folks about “It’s the Economy, Stupid.”  There we reported that we had been getting lots of news about our economy, and none of it was good. This month, the University of Hawaii’s economics research organization, UHERO, released its third quarter economic outlook on Hawaii.  The title of the paper wasn’t exactly comforting: …

Read More »