Oahu GET surcharge for rail extended through 2027

Text Alex Kekauoha

Taxpayers on Oahu can expect to continue paying a special surcharge that helps fund rail for five years past the original end date of 2022. Governor David Ige signed House Bill 134 yesterday, extending the half-percentage point surcharge on the General Excise Tax (GET) for taxpayers in the City and County of Honolulu which goes toward funding the city’s $6 billion rail transit project.

“The primary reason I signed this bill is because we made a commitment years ago, and we must keep this commitment to see rail to its completion,” the governor said in a press release. “I, too, have concerns about cost overruns. The excise tax is an investment by the taxpayers of Hawaii and my job is to ensure that their hard earned money is being spent efficiently, effectively and productively. To this end, I hereby ask the Honolulu Rail Transit (HART) to provide me with an annual progress report on revenue, costs and progress of the rail project. This report will be shared with not only my administration, but with the legislature and the public, and it will be measured against specific goals and targets.”

While the rest of the state’s GET tax is 4 percent, Oahu has been paying 4.5 percent since 2007. The surcharge was originally scheduled to end in 2022, but with Oahu’s multi-billion dollar rail project burning through money, it seems it will need all the funding it can get. The surcharge will now end on Dec. 31, 2027.


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