Hawaii Department of Taxation

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The Hawaii Department of Taxation is tasked with administering the tax laws of the State of Hawaii. It strives to do so in a fair, consistent, and uniform manner. The goal is to make voluntary compliance with all of the state's tax laws as easy as possible.

The Taxpayer Services Branch of the Department of Taxation has created a Taxpayer Bill of Rights that explains many of the most important rights of the Hawaii taxpayer. These include, but are not limited to:

  • professional and courteous service;
  • privacy and confidentiality;
  • refunds, in the event of over payment;
  • advocacy (from the taxpayer advocate);
  • representation; and
  • tax appeals.

The department also oversees audits and assessments, and is required to provide advance notice of a proposed assessment. It must also provide taxpayers with information regarding procedures for appealing a tax assessment. Notice is required if the department plans to refer a taxpayer to a collection agency over delinquent taxes.

Taxes administered by the Hawaii Department of Taxation include, but are not limited to:

  • general excise tax;
  • income tax;
  • unemployment tax; and
  • withholding tax.

In lieu of a retail sales tax, Hawaii has a general excise tax (GET). Established in the 1930s, it taxes all business activities -- both goods and services -- at every level. Different industries have different rates. As of this writing (in March 2013), the tax rate for insurance commission is 0.15%, but it is 0.50% for wholesaling, manufacturing, producing, wholesale services, and use tax on imports for resale. All other business activities are taxed at 4%.

Some businesses in Hawaii visibly pass the general excise tax on to the customer, meaning that the amount of tax is listed on the receipt. This is not required by law, and in some instances it is prohibited by law.

The Hawaii Department of Taxation maintains four district offices, on Oahu (Honolulu), Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai.

Hawaii Exemption Certificates

Just as states with a sales tax allow certain sales transactions to be exempt from sales tax, Hawaii allows certain business transactions to be exempt from the general excise tax. Exempt transactions include purchases for resale at retail and purchases for resale at wholesale may be exempt.

In order for an exemption from the general excise tax to be valid, an approved exemption certificate or resale certificate must be provided by the purchaser to the seller.

The Hawaii Department of Taxation website provides resale certificate forms and other exemption forms such as Uniform Sales and Use Tax Exemption Certificates - Multijurisdiction.

Create an exemption certificate for Hawaii, or any other state, with Avalara CertExpress.

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