homepage logo

LETTERS for April 21 issue

By Staff | Apr 21, 2016

County botched job to paint crosswalks

I am never surprised at the County of Maui doing such half-assed jobs. I wrote the division of roads over a month ago to have the lines repainted on Napilihau Street, especially the crosswalks.

We have had two people hit on that road – one by the Maui Bus and one by a car. This street is a very important part of our Napili community. Multiple people cross that road every day to shop or to go to work. The traffic does not abide by the speed limit; they speed down that road.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see the county trucks out the other day to repaint lines but to my dismay, they painted just one crosswalk and only a small section of the center line. Why did they not repaint the whole street? It is not a long street by any means.

As I say, half-assed job done mahalo!!!

Maybe even one day the whole Lower Honoapiilani Road will be repaved!



WMTA seeks community support

(The following comments were recently voiced before the Maui County Council.)

WMTA (West Maui Taxpayers Association) has been fighting for West Maui for over 37 years without relying on one penny from the county or state governments, unlike the super majority of all the other nonprofit groups in Maui County.

We struggle, but survive, with reliance solely on membership dues and contributions, and that’s rare.

We really need the community to step up their interest in supporting WMTA (with all we have done for them in the past as evidence of what we can do for them in the future, based on the amount of support they give us to do that).

There are many challenges ahead of us, and we thank you all for your volunteerism and continued outstanding support!

JOE PLUTA, West Maui Taxpayers Association


It’s tax time, but corporations aren’t paying

Tax Day offers a stark reminder of the difference between those of us who pay all our taxes every year and the big corporations that don’t. While families and small businesses scramble to file their returns each April, multinational corporations are free to indefinitely ignore a $700 billion U.S. tax bill they owe on $2.4 trillion in profits stashed offshore.

American corporations owe U.S. taxes on all their income wherever made, but thanks to a loophole called “deferral,” they don’t have to pay the bill on offshore profits until they bring the money home. Not surprisingly, this special tax break has encouraged companies to hold more and more of their profits overseas.

Corporate offshore tax avoidance can be curbed. In fact, the Obama Administration did it earlier this month. The Treasury Department issued new rules that make it harder for American corporations to shift their legal address to a foreign country in order to wipe out the U.S. taxes they owe on their offshore earnings.

The most immediate effect of this much-needed reform was to kill one of these phony relocations – called “inversions” – by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. It was trying to permanently dodge up to $35 billion in taxes, according to an investigation by Americans for Tax Fairness. Once Treasury issued new rules denying these tax benefits, Pfizer gave up its inversion attempt.

A frustrating twist to corporate tax dodging on overseas earnings is that much of that offshore money was not made where these corporations say it was. They use accounting maneuvers to shift earnings made in the United States to thousands of offshore subsidiaries located in tax havens. (One of the new Treasury regulations tries to limit this practice as well.)

The Treasury’s recent reforms are an important step toward ending the most blatant forms of offshore corporate tax dodging. But Congress needs to reform the tax laws so Pfizer and the rest of the handful of huge corporations that owe the bulk of the unpaid taxes are finally forced to pay up. The sums owed are staggering; Apple’s share is $61 billion, Microsoft’s is $35 billion and Citigroup’s is $13 billion, according to their corporate filings analyzed by Citizens for Tax Justice.

Deferral is not the only special tax break corporations exploit. Armies of corporate lawyers and lobbyists regularly descend on Capitol Hill to craft tax laws for the exclusive benefit of wealthy corporate executives and shareholders. For instance, we taxpayers subsidize huge CEO pay packages at a cost of $5 billion a year.

But deferral is the biggest corporate loophole, and closing it would do a lot of good. Here’s just one sample of how we could use the $700 billion in existing offshore profits: $470 billion to double highway and mass transit repair and maintenance for each of the next seven years; $75 billion to give all low- and moderate-income four-year-olds high-quality preschool for the next decade; $61 billion over ten years to put nine million worthy students through community college tuition-free; $67 billion to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to include childless workers and non-custodial parents for ten years; and $27 billion to increase by 50 percent the National Cancer Institute’s budget through 2027.

In addition to the important services provided, such vital community investments create millions of good-paying jobs and improve local economies and Main Street businesses.

Tax Day is a fitting time to consider this simple, sobering truth: when corporations dodge their fair share of taxes, the rest of us pick up the tab. That means we either pay more taxes ourselves, get stuck with inadequate services, rack up more debt, or some sad combination of all three.

So, this tax season, after you’ve found your last receipt and filled out your final form, remember all of America’s tax-dodging corporations and ask yourself: if I’m paying today, why aren’t they paying what they owe? Then, more importantly, ask your members of Congress.

FRANK CLEMENTE, Executive Director, Americans for Tax Fairness


Hawaii’s gender wage gap hurts women

On average, Hawaii women employed full-time, year-round are paid just 86 cents for every dollar paid to men – a yearly pay gap of $6,624. That means, in total, women in Hawaii lose more than $1.4 billion every year, which is money that could strengthen the state economy and the financial security of Hawaii’s women and families, including the nearly 56,000 Hawaii households headed by women. These are some of the findings of a new analysis conducted by the National Partnership for Women & Families and released for Equal Pay Day.

The analysis spans all 50 states, all 435 congressional districts in the country, and the District of Columbia. It can be found at NationalPartnership.org/ Gap. The full set of findings for Hawaii include that for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men in Hawaii, Latinas and Asian women who work full-time, year-round are paid 67 cents and 73 cents, respectively.

“This analysis is a sobering reminder of the serious harm the wage gap causes women and families all across the country,” said Debra L. Ness, president of the National Partnership. “At a time when women’s wages are so critical to the economic well-being of families, the country is counting on lawmakers to work together to advance the fair and family friendly workplace policies that would promote equal pay. There is no time to waste.”

According to the new analysis, if the gap between women’s and men’s wages in Hawaii were eliminated, each woman who holds a full-time, year-round job in the state could afford to buy food for nearly one more year, pay for mortgage and utilities for three more months, or pay rent for nearly five more months. Basic necessities like these would be particularly important for the 19 percent of Hawaii’s woman-headed households currently living below the poverty level.

Hawaii is not the only state with a wage gap. In fact, every state and 98 percent of the country’s congressional districts have one. The National Partnership’s national analysis finds that the ten states with the largest cents-on-the-dollar wage gaps in the country – from largest to smallest – are Louisiana, Utah, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama, Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana and Michigan.

Nationally, women who are employed full-time, year-round are paid, on average, 79 cents for every dollar paid to men. The gap is larger for African-American women and Latinas, who are paid 60 cents and 55 cents, respectively, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. For Asian women in the United States, the gap is smaller but persists. On average, Asian women are paid 84 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men, although some ethnic subgroups fare much worse.

“It is unacceptable that the wage gap has persisted, punishing the country’s women and families for decades,” Ness continued. “Some state lawmakers have taken steps to address the issue by passing legislation to combat discriminatory pay practices and provide other workplace supports. It is past time for federal lawmakers to do the same. We need Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, which is a common sense proposal that has languished for much too long.”

Currently before Congress, the Paycheck Fairness Act would close loopholes in the Equal Pay Act, help to break patterns of pay discrimination and establish stronger workplace protections for women. The National Partnership argues that the bill, along with other supportive policies – such as paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, minimum wage increases, fair scheduling and protections for pregnant workers – are what is needed to close the gap and should be top priorities for lawmakers.

The National Partnership’s analysis of the wage gap was released in advance of Equal Pay Day, which marks how far into the new year women must work in order to catch up with what men were paid the year before. The analysis uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The findings for each state, along with state rankings, are available at NationalPartnership .org/Gap.