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Hokama calls for parity, fairness in agricultural property tax assessments

By Staff | Dec 24, 2015

Maui County Councilman Riki Hokama said the bill will not impact the county’s homeowner exemption program or how property structures are valued.

WAILUKU – The Maui County Council last week discussed a bill that would offer parity and fairness for property owners seeking an agricultural valuation for tax purposes, Budget and Finance Committee Chair Riki Hokama reported.

The county provides significant tax benefits to those who use their property for agricultural purposes. The bill would address inconsistencies in how real property tax assessments are conducted for owners who use their property, or a portion of their property, for agricultural purposes.

“I am considering solutions to avoid ‘gentleman-farmers’ or those who use farming as a way to obtain tax breaks,” Hokama said.

“Reducing subsidies for agricultural use may promote parity, but the committee will also consider the bill’s unintended consequences on true farmers.

“Receiving public testimony and an update on the matter will also help prepare the committee for the upcoming budget deliberations.”

For owners whose property is not already dedicated for long-term agriculture use, the bill will require a one-time application to obtain a dedication period between five and 20 years.

Longer dedications will have greater discounts to encourage long-term agricultural use. If owners are not willing to formally dedicate their property for agriculture use, the lower tax rates will no longer be applied.

Homesites are also proposed to be valued uniformly, like every other homesite in the county outside the agricultural district.

Testimony may be emailed to bf.committee@mauicounty.us, referencing BF-70. For the latest news, follow @mauicounty on Twitter.