239-5 Public utilities, generally. (a) There shall be levied and assessed upon each public utility, except airlines, motor carriers, common carriers by water, and contract carriers taxed by section 239-6, a tax of such rate per cent of its gross income each year from its public utility business as shall be determined in the manner hereinafter provided. The tax imposed by this section is in lieu of all taxes other than those below set out, and is a means of taxing the personal property of the public utility, tangible and intangible, including going concern value. In addition to the tax imposed by this chapter there also are imposed income taxes, the specific taxes imposed by chapter 249, the fees prescribed by chapter 269, any tax specifically imposed by the terms of the public utility's franchise or under chapter 240, the use or consumption tax imposed by chapter 238, and employment taxes.

The rate of the tax upon the gross income of the public utility shall be four per cent; provided that if:

(1) A county provides by ordinance for a real property tax exemption for real property used by a public utility in its public utility business and owned by the public utility (or leased to it by a lease under which the public utility is required to pay the taxes upon the property), and

(2) The county has not denied the exemption to the public utility, but excluding a denial based upon a dispute as to the ownership, lease, or use of a specific parcel of real property,

then there shall be levied and assessed a tax in excess of the four per cent rate determined in the manner hereinafter provided upon the gross income allocable to such county. The revenues generated from the tax in excess of the four per cent rate hereinbefore established shall be paid by the public utility directly to such county based upon the proportion of gross income from its public utility business attributable to such county, based upon the allocation made in the public utility's filings with the State of Hawaii; provided that if the gross income from the public utility business attributable to such county is not so allocated in the public utility's State filings, then the gross income from the public utility business shall be equitably allocated to each county. The relative number of access lines in each county shall be deemed an acceptable basis of equitable allocation for telecommunication companies.

The rate of the tax in excess of the four per cent rate hereinbefore established upon the gross income from the public utility business shall be determined as follows:

If the ratio of the net income of the company to its gross income is fifteen per cent or less, the rate of tax in excess of the four per cent rate on gross income shall be 1.885 per cent; for all companies having net income in excess of fifteen per cent of the gross, the rate of the tax on gross income shall increase continuously in proportion to the increase in ratio of net income to gross, at such rate that for each increase of one per cent in the ratio of net income to gross, there shall be an increase of .2675 per cent in the rate of the tax.

The following formula may be used to determine the rate, in which formula the term "R" is the ratio of net income to gross income, and "X" is the required rate of the tax on gross income for the utility in question:

 

X = (26.75R-2.1275)%;

 

provided that in no case governed by the formula shall "X" be less than 1.885 per cent or more than 4.2 per cent.

However, if the gross income is apportioned under section 239-8(b) or (c), there shall be no adjustment of the rate of tax on the amount of gross income so apportioned to the State on account of the ratio of the net income to the gross income being in excess of fifteen per cent, and it shall be assumed in such case that the ratio is fifteen per cent or less.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the rate of the tax upon the portion of the gross income of a carrier of passengers by land which consists in passenger fares for transportation between points on a scheduled route, shall be 5.35 per cent. However, if the carrier has other public utility gross income the fares nevertheless shall be included in applying subsection (a) in determining the rate of tax upon the other public utility gross income.

(c) Notwithstanding subsection (a), the rate of tax upon the portion of the gross income of:

(1) A public utility that consists of the receipts from the sale of its products or services to another public utility that resells such products or services shall be one-half of one per cent; or

(2) A public utility engaged in the business of selling telecommunication services to a person defined in section 237-13(6)(C) who resells such products or services, shall be one-half of one per cent;

provided that the resale of the products, services, or telecommunication services is subject to taxation under this section or subject to taxation at the highest rate under section 237-13(6); and provided further that whenever the public utility has other public utility gross income, the gross income from the sale of its products or services to another public utility or a person subject to section 237-13(6)(C) shall be included in applying subsection (a) in determining the rate of tax upon the other public utility gross income. The department shall have the authority to implement the tax rate changes in paragraph (2) by prescribing tax forms and instructions that require tax reporting and payment by deduction, allocation, or any other method to determine tax liability with due regard to the tax rate changes. [L 1932 2d, c 43, 4; RL 1935, 2143; RL 1945, 5674; RL 1955, 126-5; am L Sp 1957, c 1, 9(c) to (f); am L 1963, c 147, 2(e); am L 1965, c 201, 30, 31; HRS 239-5; am L 1968, c 59, 2; am L 1974, c 135, 1; am L 1990, c 34, 13; am L 2000, c 198, 14; am L 2001, c 64, 3; am L 2008, c 16, 10; am L 2015, c 22, 6; am L 2016, c 52, 2]

 

Case Notes

 

"Net income" defined. 34 H. 269 (1937), aff'd 105 F.2d 286 (1939); 34 H. 324 (1937).

The portion of tariff rates reflecting value of equipment owned by taxpayer's customer is not income earned by taxpayer. 57 H. 477, 559 P.2d 283 (1977).

 

 

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