Detailing Historic Residential Property Tax Exemption Changes on Oahu

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BY YVONNE SHEN RUBES, R We all know Oahu property tax for residential property with home ownership = land and building $3.42/$1000 (Ass. Value); basic home owner exemption is $80,000.

If the home owner is 65 years and older, the exemption is $120,000, age 75 to 79 is $140,000, age 80 to 84 is $160,000, age 85 to 89 is $160,000, and age 90 and over is $200,000.


However, if your house is on the Historic Register, for preservation purposes, you can get a higher tax exemption.

Historic register inn in Manoa (MLS# 1105684) currently available for $2,775,000

Revised Ordinances of Honolulu, Sec.8-10.22, Historic Residential Real Property Dedicated for Preservation:

(a) Portions of residential real property, which are dedicated and approved by the director of budget and fiscal services as provided for by this section, shall be exempt from real property taxation except as provided by Section 8 9.1. The owners shall assure reasonable visual access to the public.

(b) An owner of taxable real property, that is the site of a historic residential property that has been placed on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places after January 1, 1977, desiring to dedicate a portion or portions thereof for historic preservation shall petition the director of budget and fiscal services.

(c) The director of budget and fiscal services shall review the petition and determine what portion or portions of the real property shall be exempted from real property taxes. The director shall consult with the state historic preservation office in making this determination. The director may take into consideration whether the current level of taxation is a material factor which threatens the continued existence of the historic property, and may determine the total area or areas of real property that shall be exempted.

(d) The approval of the petition by the director shall constitute a forfeiture on the part of the owner of any right to change the use of the owner’s exempted property for a minimum period of 10 years, automatically renewable indefinitely, subject to cancellation by either the owner or the director upon five years’ notice at any time after the end of the fifth year.

(e) Failure of the owner to observe the restrictions of subsection (d) of this section shall cancel the tax exemption and privilege retroactive to the date of the dedication, and all differences in the amount of taxes that were paid and those that would have been due, but for the exemption allowed by this section shall be payable together with interest at 12 percent per annum from the respective dates that these payments would have been due, provided the provision in this subsection shall not preclude the county from pursuing any other remedy to enforce the covenant on the use of the land.

(f) Any person who becomes an owner of real property that is permitted an exemption under this section shall be subject to the restrictions and duties imposed under this section.

(g) The director shall prescribe the form of the petition. The petition shall be filed with the director by September 1st of any calendar year and shall be approved or disapproved by October 31st of such year. The exemption provided for by this section shall be effective October 1st of the same calendar year.

(h) An owner applicant may appeal any determination as in the case of an appeal from an assessment.

(i) Subject to HRS Chapter 91, the director shall adopt rules and regulations decreed necessary to accomplish the foregoing.

(j) The owner of a historic residential property that has received an exemption from real property taxation pursuant to this section shall place and maintain on that property a sign or plaque that has been approved by the director and the state historic preservation officer. Subject to HRS Chapter 91, the director shall adopt rules prescribing the requirements for such a sign or plaque.

(Sec. 8 10.22, R.O. 1978 (1987 Supp. to 1983 Ed.); Am. Ord. 96-15, 01-23)





  1. It’s a bit of stretch to say Ms. Rubes “authored” this article. All she actually did was cut and paste a Honolulu revised ordinance after stating the obvious. Heck, this isn’t even an article since it does little to inform or convey any sort of thoughtful analysis or position. If all it takes is to cut and paste a law to be considered an article for the Hawaii Reporter, I’ve got hundreds of articles ready each entitled “Detailing the Hawaii Revised Statutes and Changes in Hawaii.”

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