Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Use tax of 4% due on cars
bought outside the state

Question: I know somebody who went to Oregon to buy a car because they don't have to pay any taxes on the purchase. Is that legal?

Answer: There's nothing illegal about doing that. But you're probably asking if Hawaii residents can escape paying any Hawaii taxes on that car.

The state Department of Taxation says individuals may purchase cars from another state and bring them into Hawaii without running afoul of Hawaii's tax laws as long as they pay the Hawaii use tax.

A use tax of 4 percent is due on the landed value of the car and must be reported and paid to the Tax Department by the end of the month after the car arrives in Hawaii, said department spokeswoman Annette Yamanuha.

The landed value includes the cost of the car, freight or other shipping charges, insurance costs or any other charges related to bringing the car to Hawaii, she said.

For general information on how to report the landed value and pay the tax due, Yamanuha directed residents to Tax Facts No. 95-1, "All About the Hawaii Use Tax."

For information on computing the landed value of a car, see Tax Information Release No. 93-3, "Calculation of Use Tax Base on Motor Vehicles Imported Into Hawaii for Use as Provided Under Chapter 238, Hawaii Revised Statutes."

Both publications are available at any district tax office, by calling the department's 24-hour request line at 587-7572 (toll-free at 800-222-7572) or by checking its Web site at (go to "General Information, Bro-chures, & Publications").

If you need more information, call the department at 587-4242, or toll-free at 800-222-3229.

Q: Though installed nine months ago, the fire hydrant on the Ewa/mauka end of Building J -- Network Support Services Branch -- on the Kalani High School campus is not plumb. I thought it was a temporary installation. Was there not a final inspection conducted by the Building Department?

A: Although it is tilted and "may not look like the best in the world, it is a workable fire hydrant and meets all requirements," Kalani High Principal Randiann Porras-Tang said.

The reason the hydrant is atilt is "because of the way the waterline is and how they would have to connect it," she said. "If they wanted to make it straight, they'd have to dig up and change the whole waterline system."

The final inspection was conducted by the state Department of Accounting & General Services, which maintains school properties.

The fire hydrant is not temporary. The old hydrants, installed in 1958, had to be replaced to meet the new fire code. "So all our fire hydrants are up to date," a Kalani maintenance official said.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply is responsible for maintaining hydrants on public streets. Those inside a property boundary, such as the one at Kalani, are the responsibility of the property owner, said Board of Water Supply spokeswoman Denise DeCosta.

"There are many such private hydrants located in commercial areas, on large school campuses, etc.," she said.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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