New brief outlines how counties can provide property tax relief

This following is a news release that was issued April 20, 2023, by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii report is intended to be a policy toolkit for county lawmakers seeking to offset spiking property assessments 

HONOLULU, Apr. 20, 2023 >> The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii released a new policy brief today that outlines ways county lawmakers can blunt the impact of recent property assessment increases on future property tax payments.

The new report, “How Hawaii’s county lawmakers can provide tax relief to offset higher property assessments,” by Institute researcher Jonathan Helton, discusses the uniqueness of Hawaii’s real property system, as well as how property taxes can increase even without the county councils increasing their property tax rates.

It explains that property taxes are based on property assessments, so property taxpayments automatically go up as the assessed values increase — unless county officials lower their respective county property tax rates or implement other mitigating measures.

In the new policy brief, Helton says that ways to break that link between increased property valuations and higher property taxes include simple rate cuts, assessment “circuit breakers,” exemptions, indexing and more.

According to the report: “Property values have shot up across Hawaii over the past two years. As a result, all four of the state’s counties saw their property tax revenues balloon in fiscal 2023. Hawaii County’s revenues grew by 19.81%, Kauai’s by 19.23%, Maui’s by 12.4% and Honolulu’s by 9.14%. This windfall could be seen as a positive outcome for county budgets, but many isle residents have bemoaned the potential higher tax burden.”

Keli’i Akina, Grassroot Institute president and CEO, said the new policy brief was produced in response to these higher property tax assessments, which will lead to higher property taxes for Hawaii residents if nothing is done to prevent it.

“With our already notoriously high cost of living, a huge tax increase is likely to be more than many families can bear,” he writes in the report’s preface. “Landlords have warned that tax hikes might force them to increase rental rates, and homeowners have had a crash course in the world of valuation appeals. Ultimately, property tax increases could further fuel the ongoing exodus of Hawaii residents to the mainland.”

Akina noted that “at the time of this writing, all of the counties are considering measures that would provide property tax relief. If enacted, those policies would help in the short term.” But, looking ahead, he said, lawmakers would do well to consider providing more permanent relief so local families won’t have to face this same issue in future years.

The new policy brief is being distributed to county council members statewide and to all neighborhood board members on Oahu.

Copies of the report can be downloaded for free from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii website here or by clicking on the button below.

Printed copies can be purchased from Amazon.com here.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Akina or Helton, please contact Mark Coleman at 808-386-9047 or info@grassrootinstitute.org.

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