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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                               February 8, 2007

Release No. M-16-07




            Mayor Mufi Hannemann today unveiled a proposal to give qualified low-income renters a one-time, $150 credit for the 2007-08 fiscal year to help ease the burden of skyrocketing property values and taxes.

            The proposal will be part of the budget package for next fiscal year that the mayor will submit to the City Council by March 2.

            “This credit is intended to allow the City to provide direct relief to renters to offset a portion of their real property tax burden,” said Hannemann.

            The credit would go to all Hawaii taxpayers who filed for and received a State of Hawaii 2006 income tax credit for low-income household renters. To qualify for the state tax credit, the renter must be a Hawaii resident with an adjusted gross income of less than $30,000 who is not claimed or eligible to be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer and who paid more than $1,000 in annual rent. The state tax credit provides a $50 income tax credit for each qualified exemption permitted under state law.

            To determine who will receive the City renter’s credit of $150, the City will ask the state Department of Taxation for its list of taxpayers who filed for and received the state low-income renter’s credit for 2006.

            The number of eligible taxpayers is believed to be roughly 70,000 or more, based on past years’ figures. If the City Council approves the renter’s credit and the state provides the information, eligible taxpayers would get their check from the City during the next fiscal year, which runs from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008.  

            “We realize the run-up in property values in recent years has raised property taxes for many residential properties,” said Hannemann. “In the case of rental properties, the landlords often pass those increases on to their tenants. While the City has taken several steps to ease the tax burden on residential property owners, currently there’s no mechanism for providing direct relief to renters. And many of them are the persons most in need of relief.

            “This credit would help fill that gap,” said Hannemann. “We’ll be submitting this to the City Council as part of our proposed budget for next fiscal year.”

            The mayor also renewed his call for creation of a homeowner classification for real property.

            “The Neighbor Island counties all have done this in order to distinguish owner-occupants from speculators and other property owners,” said Hannemann. “Establishing a homeowner classification would allow us to provide same-year tax relief to homeowners.”

            Under the City Charter, the mayor must submit his budget for the next fiscal year to the City Council by March 2.




            Bill Brennan, 527-6928

            Mark Matsunaga, 527-5767

Thursday, February 08, 2007

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