Center for Labor Education & Research, University of Hawaii - West Oahu: Honolulu Record Digitization Project

Honolulu Record, Volume 10 No. 9, Thursday, September 26, 1957 p. 8


Tax the Big Estates Now

The lead story in this weekly last week entitled, "T. H. Gov't Can Burst at Seams with Money; New Law Calls for Taxation based on Best Possible Use of Land," received interested reading and wide and favorable response, and appreciation for bringing this question sharply before the public.

The dailies have ignored the law; have not dealt with it as they have done with retail tax and income tax. The legislative session was concluded months ago but this important law has not rated publicity in the dailies.

The reason is obvious—the new law hits the big landed interests. Their silence could have resulted in lack of information by the people, resulting in by-passing of the law as other laws have been disdainfully and purposely ignored. One such measure is the homestead provision in the Organic Act which mandates the land commissioner to conduct an annual survey to determine homestead needs of the people. While the homestead provisions are ignored, big interests lease large tracts of territorial land at small rental.

The new law passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature says:

"All land shall be assessed in accordance with the highest and best use, regardless of whether the land concerned is put to such use or not."

Proper and fair tax assessment has never been carried out in this Territory. Large estates have enjoyed low assessments of their land for tax purposes, but have turned around and sold the same land at fantastic prices to wage earners and prospective small homesite owners. Overnight, even on unimproved land, the assessed valuation of the land shot up skyhigh.

Today, the tax burden in the Territory is being heaped on homesite owners who have scraped and saved to make down payments and who are saddled with mortgages for the next quarter century.

Recently big estates announced an aggregate housing development on Oahu in the coming years totaling half a billion dollars.

Most of this land is assessed for tax purposes as waste and pasture land. Overnight, the pastures will multiply in value and the tax burden will be borne by the new buyers.

Take for instance the example cited by Delegate Burns. A Damon property at Bed Hill was sold for $150,000 recently when its assessed valuation for tax purposes was $22,000.

The Territorial real property tax division has in the past shown favoritism to big interests.

In Kahului, for example, on the same street, Alexander & Baldwin property was assessed much lower than property occupied by small, independent businessmen. This is a matter of record.

The new law must be enforced. It is criminal to push out long-time residents of estate land for real estate speculation. "When the government goes along or encourages such a speculation by do-nothingness, it has no leg to stand on when accused of promoting slums, doubling-up, broken homes, juvenile delinquency, crime and ill health.

By all means the new land tax law must be enforced. Delegate Burn? is correct when he says this comes first to bring in income before raising the debt ceiling in order to sell bonds and to borrow money for public use.

p /> I do not say that at odd hours a patient must be given the regular hot dinner or supper. Few people would expect this.
But what is so complicated about opening and heating a can of soup, making some toast, or preparing instant coffee or tea? Why cannot a night nurse do these simple things after the kitchen to closed? Is it just too much trouble?

It is only common humanity to feed the hungry. If our hospitals are too big, too complex, too impersonal to do these small kindnesses for the sick, something is very wrong.