Homeowner Property Tax Exemptions
November 6, 2009

Let's talk about the property-tax exemption granted to Hawaii homeowners. There are too many people who don't understand this exemption, or don't even know it exists! It's there for the asking, although there are some strict guidelines that must be followed.
The State and Hawaii's Counties offer attractive Homeowner's Property Tax Exemptions, and in these troubled financial times, one needs to stay on top of the ever-changing rules, most of which are designed to put more of your money in the Government's coffers. As of this moment, here are the basics:
You are entitled to the attractive Homeowner's Property Tax Exemption if:
1. You own and occupy the property as your principal home (real property owned and occupied as the owner's principal home) means occupancy of a home in the county with the intent to reside in the county. Intent to reside in the county may be evidenced in a number of ways, like (but not limited to) filing of an income tax return as a resident of the State of Hawaii, with a reported address in the county.

2. Your ownership is recorded at the Bureau of Conveyances, State Department of Land and Natural Resources, in Honolulu on or before December 31 preceding the tax years for which you claim the exemption.

3. You file a claim for home exemption (Form P-3) with the Real Property Assessment Division on or before December 31 preceding the tax years for which you claim the exemption.

4. Multiple Home Exemptions for Senior Citizens: The multiple home exemption was established to lighten the tax burden for senior citizens who have relatively fixed retirement incomes. Senior citizens who are 60 years or older are eligible to apply
The multiple home exemption is determined as follows:
For those ages 60 to 69, the multiple home exemption is 2 times the basic home exemption. (2 x $48,000 = $96,000). For those ages 70 and older, the multiple home exemption is 2.5 times the basic exemption. (2.5 x $48,000 = $120,000).
One of the most confusing aspects of this exemption is that you must meet the qualifications and file for the exemption by December 31 or June 30 of the year for which you are applying. If you miss the deadline by even a day, your exemption will not take effect until the following tax period.
There are more exemptions available, as for disabled persons and others. There are also more rules that might apply to your specific situation, especially regarding qualifications for initial approval and continued automatic exemptions. To get the complete details, please visit the County's Web site: www.honolulupropertytax.com.
As changes occur, I'll post them here, so stay tuned!

Frogs, as in coqui: The County will continue to spray heavy infestations on private lots at the request of the owners until April or until the materials are depleted, whichever comes first. We just had them do the 300-foot frontage of foliage at our Hilo home, and what a blessing it is to have total frog-silence . . . for a while. Now it's up to us to pick off any new ones that appear in time, and they will.
Citric acid spray continues to be the best treatment, but it also continues to go up in price. I suppose the very best "treatment" is to do as some of our friends have done, and that is to just get used to them. Lots of people don't even hear them anymore; they have just become part of the night. Like crickets. On steroids.
Rent First! I've suggested this before, but I'll go there again. If you are planning on moving to Hawaii and you're not totally sure about the area you've selected, rent there for a while first. That will give you the opportunity to actually live here, feel and experience the area, and also travel around and check out all the places you didn't have time to visit before. You might be surprised at what you discover, and it sure would be a drag to find "the right spot" after you've already bought a house eslewhere.
We have recently talked to several families who have done the rent-first thing and they are all extremely happy that they did. None ended up where they first thought they would like to live.
The Fourth Edition of Affordable Paradise is now shipping. Updated to all the current Island data and still only $12.95! Or get it at a discount on Amazon! Please make sure that wherever you order the book, they are shipping the Fourth Edition.
If you do buy from Amazon, the books shipped directly from them will be the Fourth Edition. No guarantees if you buy the book from one of the other vendors who sells right from that same Web page, usually at a discount even lower than Amazon's. It isn't worth the discount if you end up with a Third-Edition book at this time.
The Third Edition is sold out, but there are still some around at many of the venues that sell used books, online and otherwise.
The weather is cooling off these days and we're hoping that this winter won't be as chilly as the last one! 55 degrees might not sound cold to you folks in North Dakota, but when you're used to 70-85, it is downright freezing! Few homes homes here have insulation or any heating facilities. Our lovely, tropical jalousie windows let those cold winds blow right through, too!
Much Aloha!
You are also welcome to check in to the Affordable Paradise Blog and talk story about your concerns. You can read some of the many postings there and learn from the conversations of others, too. You can also go on konaweb.com and punaweb.org and either participate in the discussions or just eavesdrop for a while!
We wish you all the best, and never forget to
Please Live Aloha!
Mahalo for "listening."
Skip Thomsen & Ohana
Updated 11/6/09