A whole dollar, 8 bits, 10 dimes coming back
The state Senate has voted to approve a token $1 credit for taxpayers.
A quarter of a gallon of gasoline, half of a Spam musubi, two first-class postage stamps, a regular-size Snickers bar, a small apple or a single roll of toilet tissue is what taxpayers could buy with the credit state legislators have decided is due them.
That is, if inflation hasn't boosted prices by this time next year when taxpayers file their 2008 tax forms to get back $1 each from the state treasury.
Hawaii's Constitution requires that resident taxpayers receive a refund or credit whenever revenue collections exceed the general fund balance by at least 5 percent for two consecutive years. But with revenue predictions shrinking on expectations of an economic downturn, lawmakers are reluctant to refund even the lean amount they approved last year.
At that time, refunds ranged from $90 for people with incomes of $50,000 to $60,000 to $160 for taxpayers who earned less than $5,000. Residents who made more than $60,000 got nothing.
This go-round, legislators decided the government needed the cash more than taxpayers, so they cleared just a single-dollar credit for a total payout of about $1.3 million.
If it's any consolation, people serving time for felonies or misdemeanors during the taxable year won't get a buck, nor will juvenile dependents qualify.
Lower tax rates would eliminate the need for this process, but don't expect a rate cut -- once government collects money, officials find it difficult to return it to the source.
At any rate, taxpayers won't have much trouble spending the windfall since $1 doesn't go very far. Even the toilet tissue would cost more if it weren't on sale.
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