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Oral Argument Before the Hawaii Supreme Court–No. SCAP-16-0000462

No. SCAP-16-0000462, Thursday, July 6, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

TAX FOUNDATION OF HAWAI`I, a Hawai`i non-profit corporation, on behalf of itself and those similarly situated, Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant, vs. STATE OF HAWAI I, Respondent/Defendant-Appellee.

The above-captioned case has been set for argument on the merits at:

Supreme Court Courtroom
Ali iolani Hale, 2nd Floor
417 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96813

Attorneys for Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant:

Paul Alston and Lori King Stibb

Attorneys for Respondent/Defendant-Appellee:

Robert T. Nakatsuji, Hugh R. Jones, and Nathan S.C. Chee, Deputy Attorneys General

NOTE: Order granting Application for Transfer, filed 01/13/17.

COURT: MER, C.J., PAN, SSM, RWP, and MDW, JJ.

[ Listen to the entire audio recording in mp3 format ]

Brief Description:

Petitioner/Plaintiff-Appellant Tax Foundation of Hawai i (Tax Foundation) appealed the circuit court’s June 1, 2016 Final Judgment dismissing its complaint against the State of Hawai i (State).

Tax Foundation filed a class action lawsuit against the State, arguing that under Hawai i Revised Statutes (HRS) § 248-2.6(d), the State was entitled to retain only the actual cost of assessing, collecting, and disposing of the O ahu surcharge on the state general excise and use tax. Tax Foundation alleged that by retaining 10% of the O ahu surcharge, the State Department of Budget and Finance violated HRS § 248-2.6(d), and sought declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus relief.

The State filed a motion to dismiss Tax Foundation’s complaint, arguing that Tax Foundation lacked standing and that, pursuant to HRS § 632-1, the circuit court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter. The parties also filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

At a hearing on the motions, Tax Foundation requested the court’s permission to amend its complaint, which the circuit court denied. The circuit court granted the State’s motion to dismiss, and concluded that, because Tax Foundation’s complaint had been dismissed, the cross-motions for summary judgment were moot.

Tax Foundation appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals and also filed an application for transfer to this court, which was accepted.

Tax Foundation’s appeal presents the following points of error:

[1.] The Circuit Court erred in granting the State’s motion to dismiss on the premise that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction because the Foundation’s complaint involved a controversy seeking declaratory relief with respect to taxes, despite the ruling in Hawaii Insurers Council v. Lingle, 117 Hawai i 454, 184 P.3d 769 (App. 2008), aff’d in part and rev’d in part on other grounds, 120 Hawai i 51, 201 P.3d 564 (2008). . . .

[2.] The Circuit Court also erred in not granting [Tax] Foundation’s summary judgment motion. . . .

[3.] [T]he Circuit Court erred in not allowing [Tax] Foundation the opportunity to amend its complaint.