By Shanila Kabir
MAUI COUNTY, Hawaii (KITV) — A bill that would increase the state general excise tax in Maui County is scheduled for a hearing at the county council meeting. If approved, the GET on Maui would go up by half a percent.
Maui is the only county that has not yet raised its share of the state GET from 4% to 4.5%. The tax increase would be applied to purchases of food, medical care and all transactions.
“This is another creative way for the legislature to work with the county to help with driving the cost of homes down by paying for infrastructure that’s needed and it helps the homeless. If developers foot the bill, housing costs would go up,” said Maui County Councilmember Yuki Lei Suigmura.
She adds most families would see an average increase of $250 yearly if the GET is increased.
On Oahu, the half percentage increase is funding construction of the rail project. On Maui, the money would go to housing infrastructure, water resources and even to build sidewalks.
There are many plans to build and improve housing for residents on the island. A new wastewater system is coming to Maui that will cost more $100 million expected in the next few years.
The councilmember said she understands why residents may be nervous about taxes going up slightly, however raising the tax will keep the already high cost of housing from going up even further.
In opposition, the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii said it will raise housing costs and cause severe damage to the people on Maui.
“We have a doctor shortage already on Maui and we may see an increase in that because many doctors have left already specifically because they are taxed with the GET tax for their services. Their small margin where they make profit and they can’t run their businesses,” said Keli’i Akina, Ph.D.
The institute claims its research shows more than 200 jobs will be lost with the tax increase which will amount to tens of millions of dollars in lost economic value and activity on Maui.
Bill 49 will have its hearing in council on Tuesday June 20th. If passed, the GET increase will go into effect January 1, 2024. Councilmembers want to hear from constituents and encourages all residents to provide testimony at the upcoming hearings.
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