Aloha, is the welcome greeting (hello) in the native Hawaiian language (which uses only 12 letters: A, E, I, O, U H, K, L, M, N, P, W). Aloha is also the nickname given to the state. This picture has 'Aloha' written all over it, and pretty well exemplifies everything that is Hawaii, "pure paradise."
While Hawaii is the 50th state admitted to the U.S. on August 21, 1959, it is unique because it consists of 8 very distinct islands rather than one geographical congruency. In addition to the island Hawaii, the state also includes the islands of Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Kahoolawe.
But if you measure these islands from east to west the geographical distance is greater than any other state in the United States. All of the islands are volcanic remnants, but two of the islands contain the world’s largest volcanoes, Haleakala on Maui is the largest dormant volcano and Kilauea Lki on Hawaii is the largest active volcano. When measured from its base on the ocean floor, Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world.
While Hawaii is today home to more than 1.4-million residents, archeological evidence places the first Polynesian settlers there around 300 CE, Spanish explorers began arriving on the islands in the 16th century, 200+ years prior to the arrival of Captain James Cook’s first documentation of the islands. A variety of settlers began arriving from Asia and other pacific islands, and by the late 1700’s many resident clans began fighting for dominance. By 1795 all of the islanders were subjugated under the rule of King Kamehameha whose decedents continued to rule over the island until 1893 when Queen Liliʻuokalani was overthrown and the islands came under the rule of a provisions government as first the Republic of Hawaii and then the U.S. Territory of Hawaii.
By 1900 the U.S. had constructed a naval repair and refueling station in a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu. By the 1930’s the naval station had become the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. On December 7, 1941 the Empire of Japan attacked both the military installation, naval air station and Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, an event that resulted in America entering World War II.
While tourism is undoubtedly the largest commercial venture in Hawaii, it still is the world’s largest producer of pineapples, macadamia nuts and orchids. It is also the largest producer of sugar cane in the United States, and the only state within the US that grows coffee.
Hawaii Fun Facts and Firsts:
- Hawaii has its very own time zone.
- Molokai has the world’s highest sea cliff walls.
- The largest contiguous ranch in the U.S. is Parker Ranch on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is 480,000 acres.
- The world’s largest wind generator is located on the island of Oahu.
About Sales Taxes and this series:
Thanks to Avalara, the 'tax people', this article is one in a 50 part series covering sales tax issues associated with each and every state tax jurisdiction in the United States. We’re publishing "Sales Tax Tuesday" every week through 2015.
Sales tax provides critical revenue for states. Other than property and income tax, sales tax is the largest source of tax revenue in the majority of the 46 states that collect it. From a government perspective, making sure every sales tax dollar is collected, through audits, fines, penalties rates and rules, is an exercise for income. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of compliance when it comes to sales tax, this series is intended to insure that you are aware of the key sales tax facts for YOUR state.
Sales Tax (NOT) Facts:
- Hawaii doesn’t have a state sales tax, but rather imposes a general excise tax (GET) on all transactions of goods and services.
- The GET rate is 4% statewide with the exception of Oahu, where it is 4.5%.
- Unlike sales tax, GET is paid by the business not the consumer, however, Hawaii does allow businesses to pass the tax onto the customer and to charge up to 4.712% to recoup GET costs.
- Exempted sales are handled like other states with sales tax: with the exchange of valid exemption certificates.
- Most business sales are taxed at the 4% rate. Exceptions are insurance commission (0.15%) and wholesaling, manufacturing, producing, wholesale services and use tax on imports for resale (.50%).
- Hawaii is a destination sourcing state. This means that tax is based on the location of the buyer.
- Hawaii is not a member of Streamlined Sales Tax (SST).
- The Hawaii Supreme Court recently ruled that nine online travel companies owed the state close to $250 million in unpaid general excise tax (GET) for hotels rooms or similar accommodations in the Aloha State booked through their websites. The court also ruled that these companies must collect GET on all future bookings.
- Aloha State lawmakers determined that car-share companies like Car2go should be taxed differently than regular rental cars. So instead of the flat $3 rate on daily rentals, car-share companies are now required to pay a 25-cent-per-half-hour tax on rentals.
Did you know:
Time to Branch Out: Love trees? So does Hawaii. Hawaii’s list of “exceptional trees,” started in 1975, now cites more than 1,000 species. And if you’re lucky enough to have one or more of these historical beauties growing on your property, you may have some green coming your way. Owners of trees deemed worthy of preservation due to their age, rarity, location, size, or esthetic quality, can quality for a tax deduction of up to $3,000 per tree to cover the costs of maintaining it. Work must be done by a certified arborist and the deduction can only be taken every third year.
Manual tax management, no matter what the particulars or persuasions (sales tax, use tax, or even general excise tax like in Hawaii), is prone to error and consumes valuable time in pass-through rather than revenue-generating activities. No matter how many jurisdictions you collect and remit tax for, Avalara provides solutions for tax automation, including tax calculation, exemption certificate management, returns processing and 1099 filing and reporting. AvaTax, coupled with QuickBooks, will insure that your business is fully tax compliant without sacrificing your operation's productivity, even when you work and live in paradise.