Maui Business

Ad ‘Misinforms’ Residents of Retroactive Property-Tax Assessments

August 11, 2016, 5:15 PM HST
* Updated August 15, 1:35 PM
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Maui Now graphic. Background image by Wendy Osher.

Maui Now graphic. Background image by Wendy Osher.

The Maui County Council issued a statement this afternoon after becoming aware of a Facebook ad and automated phone calls that they say “misinforms residents” about “retroactive tax assessments on property owners.”

“Retroactive assessments are not being done for property owners countywide,” Council Chair Mike White said today.

According to county officials, the assessment is only for two timeshare associations and is being done at their attorneys’ request. “The assessments are being done by the Department of Finance, not the council,” county officials said.   “No other timeshare units or tax categories are impacted,” the statement read.

Statement by the Corporation Counsel:

Dear Ocean Resort Timeshare owners (and any other interested parties) –

Various county agencies, to include the Real Property Assessment Division, the Maui County Council, the Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Corporation have received your many communications regarding phone calls, e-Mails, and the tax bill you received from your vacation owners association at the Westin Kāʻanapali Ocean Resort Villas, related to and regarding an amended real property tax assessment which the County of Maui has sent to your vacation owners associations. The County of Maui has also become aware of a Facebook ad you may have seen, and robo-calls you may have received as related to the assessment.

We do not know if you are aware that your vacation owners timeshare associations have brought two lawsuits against the County of Maui as related to past real property taxes assessed by the Real Property Assessment Division. You vacation owners timeshare associations have alleged and are seeking purported damages of $30 million, purportedly on behalf of their members as the purported difference in taxes previously assessed from at least 2005 to the present in one of those lawsuits. The assessment was made by the Real Property Assessment Division of the Department of Finance, not the Maui County Council. The assessment is only as to the Ocean Resort Villas and Ocean Resort Villas North timeshare associations.

Given that there is pending litigation indirectly related to the matters about which you have apparently called and/or written to express concern, and given your vacation owners associations are represented by counsel, the County of Maui respectfully directs you to that counsel for answers to your questions, comments, and concerns. Their contact number is on the letterhead of the first correspondence attached hereto.

That being said, your concerns are certainly appreciated by the County of Maui. Therefore, we feel it appropriate to send to you the attached correspondences, which are not confidential and which may answer and address the questions, comments, and concerns you have had for the Real Property Assessment Division, the Maui County Council, the Mayor’s Office, and the Department of Corporation Counsel. The bottom line is, your vacation owners associations have taken the position the county was required to re-assess the back taxes, in lieu of pursuing the amounts as claims in the lawsuits which your associations already had on file.  See, Plaintiffs/Counterclaim Defendants Ocean Resort Villas Vacation Owners Association and Ocean Resort Villas North Vacation Owners Association’s Motion to Dismiss Defendant County of Maui’s Counterclaim for Set-Off and/or Damages, et seq., filed November 30, 2015, attached hereto.

Otherwise, as the assessments have been appealed to the Board of Review, we again state it would be more appropriate for you to please direct any further questions, comments, or concerns you may have regarding the pending assessments to your vacation owners association and/or its lawyers.

Mahalo,
Dept. of the Corporation Counsel
County of Maui

The following was an email press release that Maui Now received from an organization calling itself “One Ohana PAC.”  The email was among the information referenced in the above statements:

Maui Voters Outraged Over Retroactive Property Tax Reassessments

Without any public debate, Maui County has begun the process to raise property taxes retroactively threatening every property owner, business owner, and renter.

Maui County has issued retroactive tax reassessment bills to property owners, in some cases, going back as far as 10 years! Even if the reassessment is for a year before the current property owner took possession of the property, they will still have to pay any new tax.

So far the County has billed property owners over $10 million. Making matters even worse, these tax bills must be paid within 30 days or taxpayers face huge penalties! This move by the County to hit property owners will effect not only homeowners, but condo owners, business owners, and renters. This action sets a new and dangerous precedent in county tax policy. No one is exempt from a retroactive tax reassessment.

One Ohana PAC and our 35,000+ property owners think this new tax policy and the millions of dollars in new taxes potentially levied on all citizens is an outrageous betrayal of the public trust by the Maui County Council and the property tax officials they control.

This is a dangerous tax collection precedent that should not be allowed to continue.

Last night One Ohana PAC contacted thousands of registered Maui voters by phone and invited them to a telephone town hall meeting hosted by nationally know taxpayer advocate Ted Costa, CEO of People’s Advocate. The response was overwhelming outrage on the part of Maui property owners and renters.

“Every property owner, business owner, and renter are under threat of this new and dangerous policy. The hubris, and lack of respect for taxpayers, especially seniors and those with limited means, is mind boggling,” Costa told the listening audience.

One Ohana PAC will continue reaching out to Maui residents in order to alert them to this new tax threat, and why this action to increase property taxes retroactively for property owners is putting your home, condo or apartment, and your way of life at risk.

Every Maui family is impacted.

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