Maui News

Council Unanimously Passes 3% Transient Accommodations Tax for County of Maui

By Wendy Osher
October 1, 2021, 7:44 PM HST
* Updated October 4, 5:57 AM
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The Maui County Council unanimously passed Bill 101 today–a bill that creates a 3% transient accommodations tax.

“We did not want this bill, but the state legislature left us no choice when they voted to take the county’s share of the TAT revenue from the state budget,” said Mayor Victorino. “The county spent a great deal to provide services to our visitors with the TAT revenue. It is one of the main ways we fund these services.”

“We also want to thank the County Council for the delay of the start of the collection of the new tax to Nov. 1, to allow both the hospitality industry and the county enough time to prepare,” said Mayor Victorino.

Council Vice-Chair Keani N.W. Rawlins-Fernandez noted that on July 6, the state legislature overrode the governor’s veto to enact Act 1, opening the door for counties to collect their own TAT.

“Today our county walked through that door, and exercised our right to collect county TAT in lieu of the state collected TAT we were stripped of and hadn’t received since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Rawlins-Fernandez.

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According to Rawlins-Fernandez, county officials estimate the new tax will generate about $15 million in the current fiscal year.

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Bill 101 (2021), Draft 1, establishes a 3% county transient accommodations tax on all gross rental, gross rental proceeds and fair market rental value considered taxable under the definitions of Section 237D-1, Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes.

According to Rawlins-Fernandez, the state TAT was established in 1987, and in 1990 about 90% of the revenue was allocated to the counties. “But the state repeatedly lowered the rate of distribution over the ensuing decades. The counties received less than 15% in fiscal year 2019.”

“Each of Hawaiʻi’s four counties are working on legislation to create their own Transient Accommodations Tax. We all recognize how vital this tax can be to helping us leverage the visitor industry, address the impacts of tourism, and improve quality of life for all of our residents,” she said.

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“In anticipation of the new tax, the council also passed on first reading today, a bill to increase anticipated revenue for the Open Space, Natural Resource, Cultural Resource, and Scenic View Preservation Fund, Affordable Housing Fund, and Economic Development and Cultural Programs Revolving Fund,” said Rawlins-Fernandez.

“One thing that I particularly look forward to is having a Hawaiian Cultural Center in every district. Putting additional revenues into these funds will help ensure we are allocating the county’s money to best serve the needs of our local communities,” she said.

Rawlins-Fernandez noted the county “bears the burden” of providing many tourism-related services, such as public safety, parks and roads.

Mayor Victorino said that while the TAT will be utilized in these areas, it will also be used for emergency services which are provided to visitors through Ocean Safety and the Fire Department.

“In fact today I met with the new chief and new deputy chief just to discuss these matters,” said Mayor Victorino. “I assured them that we’ll do our best to make sure they have the proper funding for future needs and that our Fire Department will be world class in the way they can operate.”

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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