Taiwanese reps get special plates
I recently saw a Hawaii license plate with the words "Foreign Organization" followed by some numbers. I've seen foreign consul plates, combat veteran plates and special arts organization plates, but this was the first time I saw one that just said "Foreign Organization." What organization is that, and how is someone allowed to get something like that?
Answer: "Foreign Organization" license plates are issued to members of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs.
Who are these members?
They are "federally recognized as official representatives of the people of Taiwan," said Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city's Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division.
As for why such plates are allowed, he pointed to Section 286-56.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, covering "Special license plates for consul or official representative of foreign or territorial government."
Such officials "may be furnished at no cost special license plates" issued by the county directors of finance for use on vehicles used for official consular business.
They have the option of using license plates issued by the official's government.
However, the plates still have to be registered with, and fees paid to, the appropriate county.
Q: While preparing my state taxes, I noticed an "Individual Housing Account" section in the deductions. What is that?
A: It's an incentive program that was adopted by the state Legislature in 1982.
The Individual Housing Account was set up to motivate people to become owners of their first home, said Sandra Yahiro, deputy director of the state Department of Taxation.
It does so by encouraging individuals to open an account with qualified financial institutions, depositing any amount up to $5,000 per year or a maximum of $25,000 over 120 months.
The individual then may deduct any amount up to $5,000 from his or her gross state income taxes. Interest on the deposit will not be included as gross income.
Every individual taxpayer who has not had any prior or current interest in residential real property may open an Individual Housing Account, Yahiro said.
You can call the Department of Taxation's Technical Section at 587-1577 for more information, or read about it in Section 18-235-5.5 of the Hawaii Administrative Rules, which can be found online at www.hawaii.gov/tax/har/har_235.pdf.
To Jay. My daughter, who recently moved to Oahu from small-town Kauai, called me last Monday just about dusk, upset that her car had overheated. She pulled over in an unfamiliar neighborhood to let the car cool and called home for advice. As we were speaking, a kind neighbor by the name of Jay saw her plight and took time from his evening with his family to help get her back on the road. Thank you, Jay, for easing a mom's worried mind and helping my girl get safely on her way. -- Diane Tsubota
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