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Hawaii Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of state's use tax scheme

By Mark Iandolo | Jun 1, 2018

Law money 04

HONOLULU, Hawaii (Legal Newsline) – Hawaii Attorney General Russell A. Suzuki announced May 22 that the state’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the state’s use tax scheme in the case CompUSA Stores LP v. State of Hawaii, Department of Taxation.

Taxpayers in Hawaii must pay an excise tax “on the use in this state of tangible personal property which is imported by a taxpayer in this State,” according to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) section 238-2. This tax must be equivalent and complementary to the general excise tax assessed on the sale of goods locally, the press release states.

CompUSA challenged the constitutionality of the way in which the state assessed use taxes from 2006 to 2008. According to CompUSA, section 238-2 of HRS violates the Commerce Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Hawaii Supreme Court rejected CompUSA’s assertions. The court stated that Hawaii’s use tax law is complementary to its general excise tax law. According to the Supreme Court, the law helps level the playing field between in-state sellers and out-of-state sellers.

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