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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 4, 2006

State may offer tax relief for damage from recent storms

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Gov. Linda Lingle said yesterday she will ask state lawmakers to offer tax credits to households and businesses that suffered property damage from the storms that battered the Islands over the past several weeks.

Bills are alive that would provide tax credits of up to $10,000 to the victims of the October 2004 Manoa flood and extend similar relief to Windward O'ahu residents who have suffered recent storm damage. Kurt Kawafuchi, state tax director, was to ask the state Senate Ways and Means Committee this morning to amend one of the bills to cover people statewide.

Extending the tax credits across the Islands could cost $9.5 million over three years, according to the state Department of Taxation.

Lingle, who toured O'ahu to look at flood damage over the weekend and who visited Kaua'i after a fatal dam breach last month, said in a statement that any tax relief for flood victims must be fair and comprehensive.

"It is not just Manoa and Windward O'ahu that have suffered losses from floods and mudslides," she said. "We should extend tax credits to all those who have lost property or suffered property damage statewide."

The original Manoa credit would cover 10 percent of flood losses that are not handled by insurance or other government assistance but is limited to $10,000 per recipient.

State Sen. Brian Taniguchi, D-10th (Manoa, McCully), chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, had taken some criticism over the Manoa credit earlier this session, before the recent heavy rains, and has been working with other lawmakers on expanding it to Windward O'ahu. He said he has no philosophical problem with offering the relief statewide.

"I think others have a better appreciation of the need for it when it happens in their districts," Taniguchi said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.