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Saturday, January 8, 2005



Council proposes property
tax relief

A Honolulu city councilman wants to double the homeowner's real property tax exemption to help offset high property tax bills caused by a hot real estate market.

Councilman Gary Okino's proposal was co-signed by seven other Council members, and will be on the agenda on Jan. 26. If it wins final approval, the exemption would apply in the tax year beginning July 1, 2006.

Okino noted the homeowner's exemption has not changed since 1988, when the median price of an Oahu single-family home was $210,000. The median price is currently $495,000.

The current exemption for homeowners under the age of 55 is $40,000. The exemption goes up in $20,000 increments to a maximum of $120,000 for those over the age of 70.

The assessed value of residential property on Oahu has risen 26 percent in the past year, meaning homeowners' property tax bills will go up unless the City Council lowers the tax rate.

The highest increases were on the Waianae Coast, North Shore and Windward Oahu. The North Shore had the largest increase in single-family home assessments -- 46.4 percent -- while the Waianae Coast had a nearly identical increase in condominium values.

But the biggest increase in tax bills likely will be in upscale neighborhoods, where homes have higher market value.

Okino's proposal follows a move on Kauai in November in which voters approved a County Charter amendment rolling property taxes on owner-occupied homes back to 1999 levels and allowing an increase of only 2 percent a year.



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