The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Hawaii County Council on Aug. 16, 2023.
August 16, 2023
Hawaii County Building
To: Hawaii County Council
Councilmember Heather Kimball, Chair
Councilmember Holeka Goro Inaba, Vice Chair
From: Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
Jonathan Helton, Policy Researcher
RE: Bill 59 — RELATING TO HOME EXEMPTIONS
The Grassroot Institute of Hawaii would like to offer its comments on Bill 59, which would create a $125,000 home exemption for owner-occupants 80 years old and older.
Currently, all homeowners 75 or older can receive a $110,000 home exemption. Bill 59 would retain that exemption for homeowners between 75 and 79, while creating a new exemption amount for those 80 and older.
With the existing $110,000 exemption, for example, an 80-year-old homeowner with a house valued at $300,000 would pay a tax bill of $1,168.50 at the current rate of $6.15 per $1,0000 of assessed value. Under Bill 59, the same individual would pay a tax bill of $1,076.25 — a difference of $92.25.
The county Department of Finance estimates that 5,316 homeowners would qualify for this new exemption amount, and that each homeowner would save an average of $74. In total, the new exemption value would save older taxpayers almost $400,000.
Retirees on fixed incomes would certainly benefit from this tax relief. Right now, any increase in their assessments — even the allowable 3% increase under the assessment cap — would create a tax bill that eats into their small monthly incomes.
With the cost of food, transportation and electricity as high as ever, any savings for older homeowners and retirees would be a good thing.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify.
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii
 “Real Property Tax Rates for Tax Year July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024,” Real Property Assessment Division, Department of Budget and Fiscal Services, City and County of Honolulu. July 2023.
 Michael Brestovansky, “County council proposes larger property tax break for older kupuna,” Hawaii Tribune-Herald, Aug. 1, 2023.