CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
City Councilmen Gary Okino, right, and Charles Djou were at a press conference at City Hall yesterday touting a tax cut for homeowners.
Tax proposal raises exemptions
Councilman Gary Okino's plan bases the break on the homeowner's age
Now it's the "everyday homeowner" who might get a property tax break if the latest proposal makes it through the City Council.
And for Councilman Gary Okino, the "everyday homeowner" includes those under 55 years of age.
This is how his plan would work:
The city currently does not count $40,000 of a home's assessed value toward calculating property taxes if owners who occupy their single-family homes and condominiums file for and qualify for an exemption.
Okino wants to increase the amount of the exemption to $100,000 for homeowners under 55.
Owner-occupants would receive $225 more a year in tax savings under the proposal, said Okino, who is also proposing to raise exemptions for those 55 and older.
The exemptions would rise to $150,000 for those at least 55 years old and go up every five years, to $350,000 for those older than 75.
Tax reductions would be about $337.50 to $862.50 per year.
"I think it's time now to help the everyday homeowner," Okino said. "Everybody's suffering tremendous increases in taxes. I mean, it's already difficult to live in Hawaii, and we don't want anybody to lose their homes."
Because the new exemptions would not take effect for another year, he is proposing a one-time tax credit this year equal to the amount of the tax savings under his exemption proposal.
Okino said his proposal would mean $60 million less in revenue for the city, but he said the amount is equal to Mayor Mufi Hannemann's proposal for a $40 million one-time tax cut and a $20 million rainy-day fund.
The mayor is projecting additional revenues of $125 million as a result of higher assessments.
Okino said a similar proposal he introduced last year did not work because he believed the budget would not have been able to absorb the projected loss in revenue. "This year, I know there's $60 million," he said.
Okino said his proposal would work over a tax-rate change because a rate change would not benefit only owner-occupied homes.
"Investors and the out-of-staters who come here -- those are the people who are actually raising the assessments -- they would have that equal break with the homeowners," Okino said.
"If we do that, then we can give less of a benefit to the homeowners. So, I'd rather take everything off of the speculators and give it to our homeowners, who really actually deserve the break at this point," he added.
"I think it's easier to implement and costs less to administer," he said about his proposal.