Honolulu Officials Approve Tax Break For Homeowners

Apr 22, 2019

Credit Cory Lum / Civil Beat

Honolulu officials have approved a bill that would lower property taxes by about $70 for most Oahu homeowners.

The Honolulu City Council voted unanimously for the bill last week despite Mayor Kirk Caldwell's administration saying it would cause the city to lose more than $10 million in annual revenue, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

The measure would raise the standard home exemption from $80,000 to $100,000, marking the first increase of the exemption since 2006. Properties where the owner is also the occupant are eligible for the exemption.

Under a property tax rate of $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed value, a homeowner with a house assessed at $880,000 would pay tax on $780,000 of value. The homeowner's tax bill would be $2,730 instead of $2,800 under the increased exemption.

The bill also would increase the standard senior home exemption from $120,000 to $140,000. The exemption is available to owner-occupants who are 65 and older.

The tax savings might not seem like a lot for an average family, but it could reflect a shift in tax philosophy, said Councilwoman Heidi Tsuneyoshi, who wrote the bill.

"It's a start in the right direction in making sure we create a Hawaii that supports its people and ensures they can continue to call this place home," Tsuneyoshi said.

The mayor has until May 3 to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature. It was unclear Friday how Caldwell will decide.