Delaying Hawaii's Tax Refunds Seen as a One-Time Deal

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When Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced that he wouldn't be delaying tax refunds this year, it might have sounded like a major departure from the policy of his predecessor.

But actually, Abercrombie's hands were at least partly tied. Lawmakers in 2010 clamped down on any governor's ability to do what former Gov. Linda Lingle did that year, by requiring all returns to be paid out within 90 days of their filing date.

Perhaps even more important, said a member of the House Finance Committee who's also an accountant, is that the trick would have had less of an impact than it did the first time if Abercrombie had tried to repeat it.

It's complicated, but here's how Rep. Isaac Choy described Abercrombie's option.

"If you visualize this in a timeline, the delay works for the initial year, but there's no impact if it's done for a second year," he told Civil Beat. Choy is vice chair of the House Committee on Economic Revitalization, Business and Military Affairs and a member of the House Finance Committee.

"If you delay, then pay out, then delay again, theoretically, you're delaying the first year continually, it keeps getting pushed forward." he added. "And, if you take refunds away, most people will lower their withholdings."

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