BY JIM DOOLEY – Larry Ellison’s Oracle Corp. owes the state of Hawaii $333,824 in back taxes, according to a lien filed against the company here last year.

The lien asserts that the California-based software and technology giant failed to pay $180,566 in state general excise taxes in 2003, $63,450 in 2004, and $89,824 in 2005.

The lien is filed against the company and not against chief executive Ellison, who is in the process of buying the island of Lanai in Maui County.

Mallory Fujitani, public information officer for the Tax Department, declined comment on the reason for the lien or whether it is still in force.

Normally when an individual or company satisfies an outstanding lien, a release form is filed by the taxpayer with the state Bureau of Conveyances.

No such release has been filed, although Fujitani noted that sometimes Mainland based companies or individuals are not aware of the necessity of filing a release form here.

Attempts to reach Oracle for comment on the matter this afternoon were unsuccessful.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie had no immediate comment.

Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii said he suspects that Oracle normally transferred title of its products to Hawaii customers before the goods were shipped here, incurring no state excise tax obligations on such transactions.

“What may have happened is that a Tax Department auditor may have found that Oracle had a presence here – a representative selling or promoting its products in the state,” Kalapa said.

“If that was the case, the Tax Department takes the position that excise taxes are owed. That has happened before. One example is Coors Brewery, which transferred title to its beer to a local wholesaler before it was shipped here,” Kalapa said.

“The Tax Department found that Coors at some point in time had a representative in the state promoting or selling its products so it claimed excise taxes were owed by Coors,” Kalapa said.

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Jim Dooley joined the Hawaii Reporter staff as an investigative reporter in October 2010. Before that, he has worked as a print and television reporter in Hawaii since 1973, beginning as a wire service reporter with United Press International. He joined Honolulu Advertiser in 1974, working as general assignment and City Hall reporter until 1978. In 1978, he moved to full-time investigative reporting in for The Advertiser; he joined KITV news in 1996 as investigative reporter. Jim returned to Advertiser 2001, working as investigative reporter and court reporter until 2010. Reach him at Jim@hawaiireporter.com