Property tax workshop still in the works
Last year ("Kokua Line," Oct. 25, 2006
), you said the City Council would have a property tax workshop in January. When are they going to have that?
Answer: A workshop will more likely be held in late February or early March, according to Councilman Todd Apo, the new chairman of the Budget Committee.
Despite the delay, "the goal remains the same: to provide tax relief to residents who have seen their tax bills grow significantly over the last three years," he said.
Apo said he will work with Councilmember Ann Kobayashi, the former budget chairwoman, on such measures and continue to look at providing relief to people who need the most help by incorporating "income-based relief."
He said legislation currently is being drafted to adjust the "circuit breaker legislation" the Council passed last year, which gave homeowners who earn less than $50,000 a year the option of paying 4 percent of their total income if that amount is lower than their property tax bill; and to find ways to help the rental market.
"I would like to get this draft legislation completed and posted publicly so that we have a foundation to have the workshop discussions," Apo said. "It will also give us the opportunity to discuss some concrete ideas with the mayor and his administration as we move through this process."
Q: I am a noncustomer of Bank of Hawaii who walked in and wanted to redeem 10 $20 bills for change into $1 bills. This bank's policy is to limit the amount given to $100 for noncustomers. The manager explained to me that this is the bank's policy and was not sure if it was a federal law. I thought cash has no risk, unlike cashing a check. Why the policy?
A: The cash has no risk, but the fact that someone wants to exchange a large amount raises questions.
Bank of Hawaii's policy limits the amount of cash exchanges for both customers and noncustomers, said spokesman Stafford Kiguchi.
"The policy is in place to reduce or deter any illegal activity, such as money laundering, which may potentially occur when cash transactions are conducted," he explained.
For customers with whom the bank has "a banking relationship," the limit is $500, he said. For nonbank customers, it is $100.
When cash transactions exceed a certain threshold, the bank must report the transactions to the federal government, he said.
Kiguchi said the bank regrets any inconvenience this might have caused you.
"However, such policies are necessary to help ensure compliance with banking laws and regulations, and to help the government in deterring illegal activity," he said.
Congress passed the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act (also known as the Bank Secrecy Act) in 1970. It is meant to deal with money laundering, drug trafficking, etc., by preventing financial institutions from being used to transfer or hide money stemming from criminal activity, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
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