Best Solution to Soaring Property Taxes: Cut the Tax

(KHNL)  Soaring property valuations have led to high property tax bills for many Oahu residents.

The Honolulu City Council is looking at 16 different proposals to ease the burden on taxpayers. Some focus on taxpayers in different income group, others on the length of time someone has owned their home.

But one tax expert says they won't really solve the problem.

"Well, as I characterize most of them, they're all gimmicks, gimmicks to fool the taxpaying public that they're going to get some kind of tax relief," said Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii.

The most direct solution, Kalapa said, is to lower the property tax rate.

"The real way to address the issue has always been there and that is the rate," Kalapa said.

Last year the council offered tax relief to homeowners earning less than $50,000 a year.

"That was kind of a first step, now we're trying to reach out to more people to offer more relief," said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.

Some of the proposals being considered by the City Council won't affect property tax bills until next year. However council members say they do need to come up with solutions that offer immediate relief.

The City Council is also considering creating a new tax classification for homeowner occupants who would receive a lower tax rate.

"I think we have some solutions, but we're also looking long term so people aren't affected every year," Kobayashi said.

The current residential property tax rate in Honolulu is $3.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.