Everyone in Hawai‘i is affected by the inequities in our state tax system. Hundreds have submitted testimony at the legislature to support greater tax fairness in Hawai‘i. Here are a few of their stories. Click their images or names to see their videos and read their stories.
Rev. David Gierlach, the rector of St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, has gotten to know Charles Steffey, a hard-working single dad raising two kids. Rev. Gierlach explains:
“Tax credits, the ones he gets now from the federal government, help them keep body and soul together. They need additional help.”
Rev. David Gierlach and Charles Steffey
University of Hawai’i honors student Alani Jamile feels the heavy burden of the taxes that are taken out of her relatively small pay check from her part-time job at Waikiki Aquarium. She sees the potential of greater tax fairness in paving the way to success for Hawai’i’s future leaders.
Roger Epstein was a Hawai’i tax lawyer for 45 years. He believes that the Hawai’i tax fairness bill “is an excellent step toward remedying some of the inequities in our society — and addressing some of the problems consuming our state.”
“We shouldn’t tax people who just have enough to live on as highly as those people who have enough to live on plus a lot of extra discretionary income.”
Pat Gozemba, a retired UH professor, remembers when her students had cars that broke down — cars that they relied on for transportation to college and to their jobs. Some of them had to drop out of school because they couldn’t afford the repairs.
“Legislators, let’s be fair. Why don’t you pass HB 209 and get started on fair taxation?”
Will Caron, a graduate of UH Mānoa, worked his way through college at low-wage jobs and is now a young working adult here in Hawai’i. He thinks that:
“It’s as plain as day that the inequity between the highest one percent and… working poor people is much too large of a gap, and we need to do something about that.”
Papaikou resident Heather Kimball is a successful business owner who supports Hawai‘i Tax Fairness and the adoption of a Working Family Credit to ease the disproportionate tax burdens on struggling families in Hawai‘i. She supports the idea of high earners like herself paying a little more to give lower income families a genuine chance to succeed and to build a strong local community. In fact, she credits the Earned Income Tax Credit (upon which the Working Family Credit is based), as one of the reasons she is where she is today.
When Randy Gonce ran to the aid of someone in distress, he experienced his own financial emergency that came close to wiping him out. It wasn’t the first time he had teetered on the brink of financial collapse–as a child his family received tax credits that helped them pay the bills and put food on the table. Now he is a public servant, student, and veteran, trying to help others and strengthen his community.
“There are a lot of reasons why Hawaii families are just a step away from financial disaster. Unfair and overly burdensome state taxes shouldn’t be one of them.”
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