Maui News

Hokama Calls for Parity, Fairness in Ag Tax Assessments

December 14, 2015, 12:26 PM HST
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Budget and Finance Committee Chair Riki Hokama. Photo credit: Office of Council Services.

Budget and Finance Committee Chair Riki Hokama. Photo credit: Office of Council Services.

Budget and Finance Committee Chair Riki Hokama introduced a bill that he said would offer parity and fairness for property owners seeking an agricultural valuation for tax purposes.

The item will be discussed tomorrow, Dec. 15 at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber.

Hokama noted that the county provides significant tax benefits to those who use their property for agricultural purposes.

The bill, he said, would address inconsistencies in how real property tax assessments are conducted for owners who use their property, or a portion of their property, for agricultural purposes.

“I am considering solutions to avoid “gentleman-farmers” or those who use farming as a way to obtain tax breaks,” Hokama said.

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“Reducing subsidies for agricultural use may promote parity, but the committee will also consider the bill’s unintended consequences on true farmers.  Receiving public testimony and an update on the matter will also help prepare the committee for the upcoming budget deliberations,” said Hokama.

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No legislative action shall be taken at the meeting, according to Hokama.

For owners whose property is not already dedicated for long-term agriculture use, the bill will require a one-time application to obtain a dedication period between five and 20 years. Longer dedications will have greater discounts to encourage long-term agricultural use. If owners are not willing to formally dedicate their property for agriculture use, the lower tax rates will no longer be applied.

Homesites are also proposed to be valued uniformly, like every other homesite in the county outside the agricultural district.

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Hokama said the bill will not impact the county’s homeowner exemption program or how property structures are valued.

The public is invited to submit testimony via emailed to [email protected], referencing BF-70.

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