Lahaina tax relief bill would protect property owners

The following testimony was submitted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for consideration by the Maui County Council on Dec. 15, 2023.

Dec. 15, 2023, 9 a.m. 

To: Chair Alice Lee
      Vice-Chair Yuki Lei Sugimura
      Maui County Council  

From: Jonathan Helton, Policy Researcher
           Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

Comments on Bill 95

Aloha Chair Lee, Vice-Chair Sugimura and other Council members, 

Thank you for considering Bill 95, CD1, FD1 (2023), which would provide property tax relief to those who were affected by the August 2023 wildfires. 

Overall, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii welcomes Bill 95, as it would help protect property owners from the possibility of losing their homes or livelihoods to tax foreclosure. 

Specifically, the bill would do four things: 

>> Exempt all destroyed properties in Lahaina from the Maui County property tax for fiscal 2025.

>> Provide a tax break to property owners who rent to displaced residents.

>> Guarantee that everyone who had an exemption on a property that was damaged by the wildfires will be able to keep it for fiscal 2025, subject to certain conditions.

>> Exempt all properties in the yellow and red reentry zones from the tax for fiscal years 2024 and 2025.

The benefits of protecting property owners from tax foreclosure would be worth the cost. 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify. 

Jonathan Helton
Policy Researcher, Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

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