Campaign-fund donation diverts tax receipts
In the state tax return, there is an option to have $2 go to the Hawaii Election Campaign Fund. However, it says: "Filling in the 'yes' oval will not increase your tax or reduce your refund." If the money isn't coming from refunds or from people paying an extra $2 out of pocket, then how exactly is it being funded? Also on the state tax return, if you have a refund coming to you, there are options to donate to the Hawaii Schools Repairs and Maintenance Fund, the Hawaii Public Libraries Fund, and/or the Domestic Violence/Child Abuse and Neglect Funds. I do not have a refund coming, but would like to donate to these funds. Is it possible to do so on the tax form or otherwise?
Answer: If you designate $2 for the campaign fund, the money will be taken from taxpayer money deposited into the state treasury and set aside as a trust fund.
So while you don't feel the actual pinch in your state tax return, the money is deducted from whatever taxes you paid the state.
The Hawaii Election Campaign Fund, established by the Legislature in 1979, consists of money collected from taxpayers who have opted for the $2 designation, any general fund appropriations, as well as other money collected for the fund, such as from fines, penalties, etc., collected by the Campaign Spending Commission.
According to the commission, which oversees the fund, there was a balance of nearly $5.5 million as of Dec. 31. See http://hawaii.gov for amounts collected from the Department of Taxation between 1991 ($419,388) and 2007 ($191,550).
The Campaign Election Fund provides public funding to state and county office-seekers who voluntarily agree to abide by campaign spending limits set for each office.
Money in the fund also is used to cover the Campaign Spending Commission's operating expenses.
Expenditure limits differ, based on the office and determined by multiplying the number of voters in the last preceding general election registered to vote in each voting district by the following amounts: governor, $2.50; lieutenant governor, $1.40; mayor, $2; state senator and representative, $1.40; county council, $1.40; prosecuting attorney, $1.40; Board of Education and all other offices, 20 cents.
As for the other funds, taxpayers are unable to designate or pay any amount into the funds via the state income tax return unless they have a refund coming, said Denise Inouye, supervising tax specialist with the Department of Taxation's Technical Section.
That is a requirement set in the law that created these "check-the-box" donations, she said.
However, taxpayers may send a check, payable to the Director of Finance, for any of the funds, Inouye said.
Be sure to have a cover letter explaining what the check is for and which fund is involved. Mail the letter and check to: Department of Budget and Finance, 250 S. Hotel Street, 3rd Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813.
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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