Maui County law provides relief to longtime families struggling with high property taxes

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Maui County began offering tax breaks to longtime families who were fighting to keep their ancestral lands — properties passed down for at least three generations.

The new measure known as the ʻĀina Kupuna Law came into effect in December, providing tax relief to lineal descendants struggling with rising property taxes due to soaring real estate values.

Edward “Eddie” Chang, 90, gave HPR a tour of his nearly complete home in Makena on Maui’s south shore, just yards from the coast on land his family has owned since 1925.

“Here is the kitchen, the dining room. There are only two bedrooms. I have plenty of skylights.”

Chang started construction in 2004, but was unable to complete the house. He lives with his wife Laurie in the detached garage due to the recent property tax hike.

“I mean, all the money from my farm went to build this house and after a while I didn’t have enough because they kept raising the taxes. It started from what, $700 and every year,” Chang said.

It continued to rise – peaking at $22,000 in 2019.

Approval of the ‘Āina Kupuna measure meant that Chang would only pay the minimum property tax of $350 per year.

“I was actually trying to sell some of this property. When I found out the county was accepting this in principle, I couldn’t believe it. To come up with an idea that would relieve my family, you know, was really something. thing. I slept really well when it happened,” Chang told HPR.

Long-time families hoping to take advantage of the new law must be a direct lineal descendant of the original owner, and the property must have been held in the family for at least three generations or more than 80 years. The ancestral land must also be located in a special management area.

Molokaʻi council member Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, who championed the measure, says she’s heard a lot of positive feedback about the measure, especially from longtime families.

“You know, the families are really, really grateful that this legislation was passed, but we’ve also received feedback on how to improve or expand this legislation so that more of our residents can benefit from it,” a- she declared.

Rawlins-Fernandez says she wants to see how this round of tax relief works before proposing any other changes. But his overall motivation is to make sure that future generations won’t have to drift away.

“On Molokaʻi, our community has fiercely protected our way of life and to prevent the exploitation of our ʻāina. Watching our sister islands suffer the impacts of exploitation and displacement only fuels my fire to help the community that remains to be able to stay,” she told HPR.

Back in Makena, Eddie Chang says his application has been approved but he won’t see the impact on his property tax bill until July 1.

“I think what it will do is save property that locals are forced to sell because they can’t afford to live there, and that’s what I think this tax relief is for. “, did he declare.

In the meantime, Chang is replenishing his savings to finish his house.

Application forms are available on the Maui County Division of Real Estate Assessment website.


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