County passes tax increase

The Hawaii County Council on Friday passed a one-quarter percent surcharge to the general excise tax.

The county surcharge, raising an estimated $20 million a year, would start Jan. 1, 2019, and end Dec. 31, 2020, under Bill 159.

The council voted 7-2. Voting “no” were North Kona Councilman Dru Kanuha and Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles.

The surcharge was a compromise measure after the council earlier postponed a full half-percent tax surcharge allowed by the state Legislature, with a 2030 expiration date.

Because the tax is itself taxed, the 0.25 percent tax on a $100 purchase would increase by 26 cents, raising the purchase from $104.17 to $104.43, once the 4 percent state GET is also taken into account.

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