Sunday, December 31, 2006

Higher taxes in Paradise


Hawai'i's high cost of living is set to rise as a host of taxes and rate increases takes effect with the ringing in of the new year.

O'ahu shoppers will notice it at the cash register with a general excise tax surcharge of 0.5 percentage points being added to their bills.

At service stations, there will be an about 11-cent increase as a state tax break expires. On the docks, it will cost more to bring in a Mainland container and handle it, while monthly Medicare costs will climb.

Those are just some of the increases scheduled as government raises money for a rail system and businesses increase rates to fund improvements or cover other costs. On the flip side, the state is increasing the standard deduction for income taxes and adjusting tax brackets. Gov. Linda Lingle also wants to use $300 million of the state budget surplus for other tax relief. But for now, many people will see an increase in their expenses that could outstrip wage gains.