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The following artical is somewhat out dated, but still informative
UNDERSTANDING MAUI PROPERTY TAXES
(County Of Maui - Hannibal M. Tavares, Mayor)
Each year Maui residents make an investment in their County when they pay their property taxes. Every dollar is returned in the
form of vital services we often take for granted; services such as fire and police protection, street maintenance and lighting, water, sewer and refuse collection, and recreational facilities and activities.
These services are financed through a variety of revenue sources including federal and state grants, water and sewer fees, fuel tax, motor vehicle weight tax and, most importantly, the real property tax. The County of Maui could not operate without the real property tax as approximately one-half of every revenue dollar collected comes from this source.
Property Tax Powers
Hawaii's four counties now have full control over their property tax system after voters approved a constitutional amendment
transferring the responsibility for property valuations, exemptions, and tax collections from the State to the counties. Since the transfer in 1981, the County of Maui has worked to refine the property tax system and has developed improvements to the law.
Assessments at Full Value
The need to insure "truth in taxation" has brought about a major change in the way property has been assessed beginning in 1983.
Property is now being assessed at 100% of fee simple market value, making it easier for homeowners to see what their property is actually worth. The old system of fractional % assessment, or setting the value at 60%, was confusing to property owners. Assessing at full market value eliminates the mathematical calculations and guesswork of the past.
Fair Market Value
Locating, identifying and appraising your property at fair market value and approval of exemptions are the responsibility of the Real Property Tax Division of the Department of Finance. Market value, or the price most people will pay for your property, is the standard used to measure equity in assessments.
Over the years great strides have been made to improve the methods used to assess property in a uniform and fair manner. Property owners are encouraged to visit the Real Property Tax Division located at the War Memorial Gym Complex at 1580 Kaahumanu Avenue, Wailuku, HI. You can inspect your records at the front counter or ask to speak to an appraiser regarding your assessment.
Appraising Your Property
Because our County has only a few appraisers for approximately 46,000 parcels and 70,000 structures, a personal inspection of your property is normally undertaken only at the time of construction or remodeling. The "Mass Appraisal Method of Valuation" is used thereafter, but your property is still given individual consideration. A computer is used to update your property value through a land and building indexing system.
The appraisal process continues throughout the year, but the values established by the Real Property Tax Division as of January constitute the values which will be used during the following tax year which begins July 1.
As a property owner you should be aware that there are homeowner exemptions which can reduce your net taxable value. If you own and occupy your property as your primary residence on January preceding the tax year, you will be eligible for a single home exemption of $40,000. This amount will be deducted from your property assessment before your net tax able value is found.
For example, if you own a house and lot valued at $100,000 and are eligible for a single home exemption of $40,000, your net taxable value will be $60,000. this figure is then multiplied by the tax rates, which are set by the County Council, to determine the taxes owed.
Multiple home exemptions were established to help senior citizens living on fixed retirement incomes. For homeowners 70 years and older, the multiple home exemption is 3/3 times the basic exemption, or $120,000.
Special exemptions of $25,000 are also available for property owners who are totally disabled, blind, deaf, or who are Hansen's Disease sufferers. These special exemptions are in addition to the basic and multiple home exemptions.
If you are a disabled vet - due to injuries received while on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces, your home is exempted from all real property taxes, except the minimum tax of $7.00.
The staff of the Real Property Tax Division will not automatically grant homeowner exemptions. You must file a claim on or before December 3 for the next tax year but, once filed, no additionalaction is required until your status changes. In addition to exemptions cited, there may be other types of exemptions which the council may approve from time to time. Please check with the assessors office for more information.
Another important time frame is the period when assessment notices are mailed to property owners. these notices are mailed each
year by march 15. You have until April 9 to appeal your assessment.
When you receive your notice, study it carefully. It lists your land classification, property value, exemptions and net taxable value. If you find an error or have questions on your assessment, contact the Real Property Tax Division.
Should you want to appeal, you will find the process is quite simple and requires no legal counsel. Appeals are heard by a five member Board of Review composed of 5 property owners like yourself. The taxpayer is asked to state his case and then the appraiser explains how the assessment was determined. There is a $3.00 fee to appeal.(increased to $50 in 2008)
Property owners may also appeal directly to the Tax Appeal Court, which could require legal assistance if you choose not to follow the small claims procedure or file our appeal with the Board of Review. An appraiser will be happy to explain the appeal process and your rights under the law.
Many property owners regretfully do not question their assessment until they receive their tax biil. The first half of the tax year's bill is mailed on July 20 and payment is due on August 20. The second half is mailed the following January 20 and payment is due on
February 20. You should remember that tax assessment appeals can only be made between March 15 and April 9 prior to the mailing of your tax bill. There is no avenue for appeal after you have received your bill.
The tax year begins on July 1 and extends until the following June 30. These are the important dates to remember:
Dec. 31 - Deadline for filing exemption claims and ownership documents
Jan. 1 - Assessments set for use during next tax year
Mar. 15 - Assessment notices mailed
Apr. 9 - Deadline for assessment appeals
May 1 - Certified assessment roll to County Council
May 15 - Tax rate set by County Council
July 1 - Tax year commences
July 20 - First half year tax bills mailed
Aug. 20 - First half year tax payments due
Sept. 1 - Deadline for filing dedication petitions
Jan. 20 - Second half year tax bills mailed
Feb. 20 - Second half year tax payments due
Tax Map Key Is Important
Homeowners should know their tax map key number. Real property is mapped and indexed numerically according to a tax key system which identifies your property. All matters concerning your property should be made in reference to the tax key.