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SERVING THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY SINCE 1993
FEB. 9, 2019

HAWAII-FILIPINO NEWS

Raising Minimum Wage to be Taken up at the Legislature

Bills to raise the minimum wage will be taken up at the Hawaii State Legislature this session, SB1248, SB789, and HB1191 HD1.

The House Committee on Labor & Public Employment passed HB1191 HD1 to increase Hawaii’s minimum wage on a gradual basis beginning on January 1, 2020 through 2024, with smaller wage increases for employees receiving employer-sponsored health insurance to incentivize employers to continue to provide that benefit. The bill advances to the House Committee on Finance.

“The bill balances the real need of lower-wage workers to keep up with Hawaii’s high cost of living and small businesses’ ability to continue doing business amidst the significant burdens imposed on them by the state,” said Representative Aaron Ling Johanson, Chair of the Committee on Labor & Public Employment. “The bill improves the wages of those who are most vulnerable with less risk of compromising those same employees’ health insurance currently paid for by the employer.”

SB1248 aims to increase the minimum wage to $15 by 2024; SB789 increases it to $12 by 2022. The first hearings took place in the Senate Labor Committee led by Chair Brian Taniguchi.

The state’s current minimum wage is $10.10. At this rate, a full-time employees is estimated to take home $21,000 a year. The last step the Legislature had taken on raising the minimum wage was in 2014.

Supporters of the bills say $10.10 is not a living wage in Hawaii where the state consistently ranks in the top five among the states with the highest cost of living.

According to data from the Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism, the self-sufficiency income standard for a single adult with no children in 2016 was nearly $33,000 per year, or $15.84 per year.

The self-sufficiency wage for that same adult rises to $27.00 per hours with the addition of one child.

Opposition

The Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii submitted testimony against increasing the minimum wage and asked lawmakers to consider the impact these bills would have on local businesses’ ability to continue to create jobs, survive in a high cost of living state and pay for benefits currently offered to employees.

The testimony read, “The passage of these bills would seriously harm local businesses, the state economy, job creation and, potentially, the very employees it is trying to help.

“As a direct result of the significant proposed increase in the minimum wage, some businesses may have to cut back hours, reduce benefits or limit the hiring of new employees. Increasing the minimum wage will also greatly affect job opportunities, especially for new, unskilled workers. In addition to traditional adult workers changing industries, young adult workers also often receive their initial work experience by starting at unskilled jobs.”

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FALEA Celebrates 25th Anniversary

The Filipino American League of Engineers and Architects (FALEA) held its 25th Anniversary celebration at the Pomaikai Ballrooms at Dole Cannery late last year. Eleven scholarships were handed out and the new officers and directors installed during the celebration.

Gov. David Ige was honored as an “Outstanding Public Official” and inducted as a honorary member of FALEA.

FALEA was established in 1993 by Juny Laputt, Paul Lucero and Vergel Del Rosario. They are three Filipino engineers who felt the need to organize a group that would give Filipinos a better chance at success in the professional licensing process and promote its member’s image and reputation.

Since its inception, it has evolved into a very active tightly knit group with focus on providing programs for continuing education and training needed to meet the requirements to practice in Hawaii.

FALEA is a group of professionals with an extensive network of engineers, architects, surveyors, contractors and allied professions from Oahu and the neighbor islands. Although its membership is composed mainly of Filipinos, it is open to professionals of other ethnic backgrounds.

It has more than 300 members and keeps growing. FALEA is a member of the Hawaii Council of Engineering Societies. It is a non-profit organization. Visit www.falea.org for information on the group’s activities or to become a member.

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Helpful Tax Filing Tips

Tax season officially started and the Hawaii Department of Taxation released helpful tips. “The Department encourages taxpayers to electronically file (e-file) tax returns and take precautions to protect themselves from fraud,” said Linda Chu Takayama, Director of Taxation. “We have provided these tax filing tips to help avoid delays and frustration this tax season.”

File early

Start gathering your tax records so that you have enough time to obtain all forms and documents needed to accurately file your income tax return by the filing deadline, April 22, 2019. Filing early is the best way to prevent cybercriminals from stealing your refund. If you have been a victim of identity theft, you may enroll in the Department’s ID Theft Protection Program by visiting Hawaii Tax Online at https://hitax.hawaii.gov. Those enrolled in the program will be notified when an income tax return is filed with your name and social security number, and you will be asked to verify that you filed the tax return.

File electronically

Compared to paper filing, e-filing improves accuracy, provides verification that your tax return was filed and processes faster so that tax refunds are delivered to you quicker. There are now more ways than ever to conveniently e-file your return. In addition to the many fee-based commercial tax preparation software, taxpayers can also file for free directly with the Department using Hawaii Tax Online at https://hitax.hawaii.gov.

Use direct deposit

Using direct deposit is the quickest and safest way to receive your refund. Processing times are longer for taxpayers who choose to receive their refunds by check.

Check for accuracy and errors

Avoid processing delays, adjustments to your return and additional correspondence from the Department by making sure all social security numbers are correct, the appropriate filing status is selected, attaching required forms and your employee earning statements (HW-2s and W2s), and signing your return.

Check Your Refund Status

You may check the status of your refund online 9-12 weeks after you filed your tax return. Visit the Department’s website at http://tax.hawaii.gov and click on “Check Your Income Tax Refund Status.” You will need your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and the exact refund amount claimed as shown on your tax return.

For More Help If you unable to resolve an issue after reading form instructions and searching the Department website, Taxpayer Services agents are available by phone at (808) 587-4242 Monday – Friday, 7:45am to 4:00pm.

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