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ThinkTech Hawaii: Love-Hate Relationship with Tourism (Talking Tax)

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Need It, Want It, Hate it. The hosts for this show are Jay Fidell and Tom Yamachika.

Here in Hawaii, we officially have a love-hate relationship with tourism. How do we love it? Look no further than the Hawaii Tourism Authority, which has been awarding lucrative marketing contracts – tens of millions of dollars per year. How do we hate it? We have been taxing the bejeebers out of tourists.

Tourists looking at their hotel folios are greeted with a state TAT of 10.25%, a county TAT of 3%, a state general excise tax of 4%, and, for most counties, a county surcharge on state tax of 0.5%. That’s a whopping combined tax rate of close to 18% under current law.

With all of these mixed messages going out to what is, happily or unhappily, our No. 1 economic driver, the possibility of economic waste looms large.

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