Voters to decide tax surcharge on investment property to help fund public education

KAILUA-KONA — Voters this year will have the opportunity to decide if Hawaii should establish a surcharge on investment property to help fund public education.

State Senators on Monday voted 23-1 to approve Senate Bill 2922 calling for a Constitutional amendment to authorize the Legislature to establish a surcharge on investment real property to support public education. The question that will placed on the ballot in November will be: “Shall the legislature be authorized to establish, as provided by law, a surcharge on investment real property to be used to support public education?”

Currently, the state Constitution authorizes counties to levy property taxes. If the amendment is approved by voters, Hawaii would join 49 other states in using property taxes to finance public education. However, the Legislature will still have to revisit the issue to determine the parameters of the tax surcharge.

“The public should be assured that the Senate has no intention of taxing the homes you live in, that is homes for which resident owners receive a homeowner’s exemption. Nor does the Senate intend to approve any surcharge on investment properties valued less than $1 million,” said Sen. Michelle Kidani, D-Oahu, who introduced the bill on behalf of the Hawaii State Teachers Association. “Further, no consideration has ever been given to a surcharge on commercial properties. The intent is and always has been to focus on residential properties.”