Waialae site’s sidewalk to be widened
A new public storage facility is being built on the corner of Waialae Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard. They've put up a fence on the Waialae Avenue side that takes up about half the sidewalk. Is that allowed? This requires us to walk closer to the road, and with all the cars speeding by, it does not feel very safe.
Answer: The roadway in that area falls under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Transportation and has been the source of numerous complaints over the past few months.
We first contacted the city and was told that the contractor, Nordic Construction, had obtained a highway right-of-way permit from the DOT's Highways Division. Based on a complaint back in November, the contractor was told to move the fencing back.
"Nordic Construction originally placed their barrier all the way to the street curb, blocking the entire sidewalk," acknowledged DOT spokesman Scott Ishikawa.
After inspecting the area, the DOT ordered Nordic to comply with wheelchair passage requirements set in the Americans With Disabilities Act, he said.
The Act specifies a minimum clearance width of 36 inches, he said, and required Nordic to clear 40 inches total.
Ishikawa said Saturday that Nordic is replacing and widening the section of sidewalk in question to a total width of 60 inches.
Q: I'm approaching retirement age. Does income tax have to be paid on Social Security retirement benefits? If yes, will they be withheld from my check? What if I continue to work and earn income?
A: The Social Security Administration advises contacting the Internal Revenue Service to get answers to your specific situation, because it is not the authority on tax matters.
In general, however, it says you may or may not have to pay income tax on your benefits.
People who have "substantial income" in addition to their Social Security benefits, such as from wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other reportable taxable income, do have to pay income taxes on their benefits, according to the SSA.
We found the answer to a similar question on the Administration's Web site -- socialsecurity.gov -- by doing a search under "Taxes and Social Security."
The SSA says no one pays taxes on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits and some pay on a smaller amount, based on various rules.
As to whether you can have taxes withheld, the answer is yes. That may be easier than paying estimated tax payments every quarter.
You are advised to obtain the IRS's Publication 554, Tax Information for Older Americans, and Publication 915, Social Security Benefits and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, to help you figure out whether your benefits would be taxable.
You can download those publications on the SSA's Web site or the IRS Web site, www.irs.gov, or get copies by calling the IRS, toll-free, at (800) 829-3676.
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. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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