Maui News

Maui Committee to Review of Ag Property Tax Assessments

March 7, 2015, 1:04 PM HST
* Updated March 9, 1:30 PM
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Ranching on Maui, file photo by Wendy Osher.

Ranching on Maui, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Maui Now Staff

A bill aimed at addressing inconsistencies in agricultural real property tax assessments will be considered by the Maui Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, March 9, 2015.

Committee Chair Riki Hokama made the announcement saying, the proposed bill introduces “uniformity and parity” for property owners who want to receive an agricultural valuation.

Under the proposed legislation, a one-time application will be required to obtain a dedication period between five and 20 years.

Longer dedications will have greater discounts to encourage long-term agricultural use and to attempt to minimize ‘gentleman-farmers,’ or those who use farming as a way to obtain tax breaks, according to Hokama’s announcement.

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Hokama explained that owners who use their property, or a portion of it, for agricultural purposes receive tax benefits which encourage agricultural use.

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The current rules are inconsistent in how agricultural property valuations are implemented, with variances in the valuations of homesites on agricultural parcels, depending on the size of the parcel, according to Hokama’s explanation.

“We must identify ways to improve our property tax system and bring fairness to all property owners,” Hokama said. “There is no perfect legislation, but we are addressing what is best for the entire county, not just one specific area.”

The committee will consider agricultural dedication petition requirements, qualifications and penalties during the meeting, which is slated to start a 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber.

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“Part of the committee’s objective is to consider unintended consequences of this proposed bill,” Hokama said. “I hope to promote fairness, support for our agricultural users and lessening of the hardships they experience.”

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