I’m working on an article about the city’s proposed rail budget, and a challenging aspect of understanding the details is — once again — different numbers from different sources. But here’s an interesting — and consistent — point that’s rather shocking and often buried: To collect the General Excise Tax surcharge and redistribute it back to Oahu, where it originated, the state takes 10 percent of the revenues right off the top.

Ten percent! Last year, that amounted to $16.4 million. The entire operating budget for the State Department of Taxation in 2009 was $26 million. That’s sixty-three percent of the entire department budget — just to return the county surcharge money to the city.

About the Author