Hawaii lawmakers could approve $300 tax rebates this week

(The Center Square) - A bill that would give taxpayers in Hawaii up to $300 in rebate checks could be decided by the Legislature on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 514 was sent to a conference committee last week after the Senate disagreed with House amendments.

The bill's language now specifies the state will give $300 checks to individuals earning less than $100,000 and couples earning less than $200,000. One-hundred dollar checks will go to individuals earning $100,000 or more and couples earning $200,000 or more. According to the bill, the amounts will be multiplied by the number of the taxpayer's qualified exemptions.

Hawaii is experiencing a $4 billion budget windfall. The bill would also allocate $300 million to the pension accumulation fund and $500 million to the emergency and budget reserve fund.

The Grassroot Institute previously submitted written testimony on the bill criticizing the lack of specifying the amount taxpayers could expect. It also suggested more money go back to the taxpayers.

"We suggest that, given the amount of its budget surplus, the state return at least one-third of the windfall, or about $1 billion, to the taxpayers," said Joe Kent, Executive Vice President of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. "That would equal approximately $1,361 for each of Hawaii's 734,673 taxpayers."

He also said the legislature should help alleviate the state's high cost of living by cutting taxes "which the state can clearly afford."

Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, D-Wahiawa, told The Center Square in April the bill is meant to give relief to residents, estimating the total cost of the rebate program will be around $250 million.

He said lawmakers were also looking at options for getting the rebate checks out sooner rather than later so taxpayers won't have to wait until the next tax filing season.

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