Council Introduces 3 New Bills on Historic Property Taxes

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BY THE HISTORIC HAWAII FOUNDATION – Honolulu City Council has scheduled first reading for three bills related to the property tax exemption for historic residential property on its January 26, 10 a.m. agenda.
First reading is used to introduce the bills and assign them to committee; it is not an opportunity for public comment or testimony.

All three bills are assigned to Budget Committee.  The next Budget Committee meeting is February 9th, but we don’t know yet if these will be on the agenda.  The committee meeting will be the next opportunity to submit testimony.

CB2 (2011) outlines 4 options to amend the tax incentive for historic residential real property.  The intention is that council will select an option or combination of options and amend the bill.  The options are:

  • 1) Repeal the existing tax exemption.
  • 2) Repeal the existing tax exemption for a set period of time (2016)
  • 3) Repeal the existing tax exemption and re-enact a new property tax exemption
  • 4) Repeal the existing tax exemption and enact a new historic structures tax credit.

CB3 (2011) is the bill proposed by the administration that revises the existing property tax exemption program by adding definitions and enforcement provisions for better accountability and clarity.  Historic Hawai‘i Foundation supports this bill and helped develop many of the provisions.  This bill would strengthen and improve the existing program, but leave the basic concept and incentive intact.  It is the most comprehensive response to testimony and public comment on the previous bill (CB55 2010).

CB4 (2011) would repeal the property tax exemption and replace it with a tax credit for rehabilitation of residential historic properties.  HHF is evaluating this proposal and does not yet have a recommendation.  In the past, HHF strongly supported a rehabilitation tax credit against state income tax and believes this approach has merit.  However, we need to assess the details of how a program would work, and how it compares to the property tax exemption as an incentive for preservation.

Historic Hawai‘i Foundation is actively monitoring this issue.  Sign up for action alerts or check the website for updates.

Historic Hawai‘i Foundation is located at 680 Iwilei Road, Suite #690, Honolulu, Hawaii. Write to them at