By the Numbers
2007: The Priciest Year Yet
You might not have noticed, but life just got a little more expensive in Honolulu:
• On Jan. 1, the general excise tax on O‘ahu jumped from 4 percent (or a maximum of 4.16 percent, as the tax itself can be taxed) to 4.5 percent (or 4.712 percent)—the largest tax increase in Honolulu history, to help finance its mass transit system. So that new hybrid Toyota Camry you’ve been eyeing? If you paid the full MSRP of $25,850, you’d fork over about $142 more dollars today than if you’d bought it on Dec. 31.
• Unfortunately, it’s also costing you more to fill up your car. In April 2006, the state exempted ethanol-blended gasoline from the general excise tax. But on Jan. 1, that gas tax exemption expired, and Hawai‘i residents saw an 11-cent-per-gallon increase at the pumps. Hey, good thing you got that hybrid, right?
• Still smoking? Last September, the state imposed the first of six annual cigarette tax increases. The tax on a pack is now $1.60. By 2011, it will hit $2.60.
• Are you a small-business owner? Then you’re probably feeling the pinch of the state’s minimum wage hike, which also took effect on Jan. 1. The minimum wage went from $6.75 to $7.25, an increase that could affect prices and services for all customers.
• More bad news for businesses: A report by real estate firm Colliers Monroe Friedlander showed that office rents went from $2.36 per square foot in 2005 to $2.59 in 2006 and will continue to rise this year.