Bill 37, CD1: Increase income eligibility for property tax credit

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Honolulu County Council on July 7, 2023.

July 7, 2023
2:30 p.m.
Honolulu City Council Chambers

 To: Honolulu City and County Council
       Councilmember Tommy Waters, Chair
       Councilmember Esther Kiaʻāina, Vice Chair

 From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
            Ted Kefalas, Director of Strategic Campaigns


Comments Only

Dear Chair and Committee Members:

The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on Bill 37 (2022), CD1, which would increase the income eligibility for the real property tax credit from $60,000 to $80,000.

This credit caps the tax bill at no more than 3% of the qualifying homeowner’s income. For someone making $80,000 a year, that would represent a maximum tax bill of $2,400.

The Institute supports increasing the eligibility for the tax credit to assist lower-income homeowners, and we believe that the proposed income threshold should stay at $80,000.

This “circuit breaker” for lower income households has not kept up with changes in personal income. This credit was last increased in 2014 from $50,000 to $60,000.[1]

In 2014, a two-person household income of $61,350 equaled 80% of area median income. In 2022, a two-person household making 80% of AMI would have an income of $83,600.[2]

Further, the County should make efforts to raise awareness of this tax credit, since only 3,252 homeowners received it for fiscal 2023.[3]

Thank you for the opportunity to testify.


Ted Kefalas
Director of Strategic Campaigns
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

[1] Ordinance 14-33. See also Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, § 8-13.2 Real property tax credit established, accessed April 3, 2023.

[2]Honolulu County Income Schedule by Family Size,” Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., 2022, p. 16; “Honolulu County Income Schedule by Family Size,” Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp., 2014, p. 1.

[3] Uniform Information Practices Act request filed with the Honolulu Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, Dec. 8, 2022.

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