Everything You Need to Know About The Hawaii General Excise Tax


Looking for information about the General Excise Tax? Use these links to find what you need.

  • Hawaii Tax Forms. Printable tax forms: G-45 (periodic) or G-49 (annual reconciliation).
  • Pay Hawaii taxes online. Pay your state taxes or general excise taxes online. There is a $1 electronic check fee or a variable fee for paying with a credit card.
  • Register with eHawaii. Register your business in Hawaii online.

What is that additional charge on our receipts? It’s none other than our good friend, the General Excise Tax (GET).

Updated 2/28/2019: Sorry for the issues with this page info going missing and comments not being available  — I was recently hacked and had to deal with it along with a backdoor that would reset the issue until solved.

Updated 1/28/2019: To increase site speed, I’ve had to limit the comments loaded per page to 15 comments (replies don’t count) — click “OLDER COMMENTS” to view older comments.

Updated 5/30/2018: I am slowly making updates to the article. If you post 2 or more links, your comment will be auto-marked as spam by the system. Thanks to DAVID W RISTAU CPA for helping to answer some of the questions in the comments section. There are now over 300 questions and answers — you might find your answer in the comments.

Updated 10/18/2014: I am not a CPA or affiliated with the Hawaii State Department of Tax. If you have questions about taxes, call them at 808-587-4242 or contact them. You can also contact VITA with questions, a nonprofit that helps people with tax information. Please do not contact me for detailed tax advice — everything I know about the GET is right here in this article .


Have you ever wondered where states get their money from? Each state has their own methods (sales taxes, lottery, gambling), but for Hawaii, the biggest source of income is the General Excise Tax (GET). The tax is on gross income by businesses, meaning that part of every single business transaction goes to the state, whether it’s you buying a pack of gum at the 7-Eleven, or you constructing an office for someone.


Who has to pay the General Excise Tax?

Most businesses that have business transactions occur in Hawaii have to pay the GET. This applies to business that sell goods or provide services.

If you are an independent contractor, a small business owner, a freelancer, a self-employed person, or do “side gigs,” you will need to pay the excise tax, since you are considered a business. Businesses located in another state with a physical presence in Hawaii also have to pay the GET.

There are some business types who are exempt and there are some business types who have a different rate. More on this later.


Is the General Excise Tax a sales tax?

No, it is not. Although both have the same purpose (give money to the state), the two are a bit different. The main difference is who pays the tax. In states that have a sales tax, the tax is on consumers who buy retail goods. In those situations, business help the state by collecting the sales tax for the state. With the GET, the tax is on businesses. Furthermore, it’s not just goods getting taxed — services, wholesale goods, and rents are also taxed.


How much is the General Excise Tax?

The base rate for the GET is currently 4% of gross sales (as of 4/11/2013). In the City and County of Honolulu aka Oahu, the rate is 4.5%. The extra .5% for Oahu is to help pay for the mass-transit rail project on Oahu. Also, anyone conducting business on Oahu or has a “physical presence” on Oahu has to pay the extra .5%.

For example, if you’re renting out apartments in Oahu and Maui, you’ll be paying 4% GET on the Maui apartments and 4.5% on the Oahu apartments.

But why do I see 4.712% tax on my receipt on Oahu?

The answer is a bit complicated, so pay attention to this example:

You own a lunch truck. Jerry Maguire comes one day and buys a loco moco plate from you. The loco moco plate has a price of $10.

As a lunch truck business, you have 2 choices regarding the GET:

Choice 1: You pay the GET. If you choose to pay the GET, Jerry Maguire will be billed $10 and you will collect only $10 from him. When the time comes to pay your GET to the state tax department, you will pay 4.5% multiplied by your gross sales (on Oahu), which will mean you pay 45 cents of that $10 you collected.

Choice 2: You make the customer pay the GET (the common method). If you want to have Jerry Maguire pay the GET instead, you will add 4.5% to the total bill. So, the $10 loco moco should become $10.45, after tax. But you’ll still have to pay taxes out of your pocket. Why? Because the state considers the 45 cents tax you collected to be income too, so you will pay a tax on that tax you collect (confusing right?). Paying 4.5% tax on the 4.5% tax actually equals 4.7025%, but the state allows you to round up a bit and you end up with a GET rate of 4.712% of the sale amount of that plate lunch. Most businesses force customers to pay the excise tax and then the excise tax on the excise tax, so you’ll see 4.712% on your bill, not 4.5%. On outer islands (no .5% Oahu surcharge), this means a GET rate of 4.166%. Most businesses do this because it’s common and it means that they won’t have to pay GET out of their pocket, as the customers paid it already.


Should I make my customers pay the excise tax?


People in Hawaii are accustomed to the tax. Furthermore, it is a surcharge, so it’s added onto the bill, but doesn’t make your sticker price higher, meaning people only see if when it comes time to pay. Furthermore, your competitors probably pass the excise tax onto customers, so if you decide to absorb the excise tax yourself, that means you’re at a financial disadvantage compared to them.

For my business, I don’t pass the GET onto my clients because it makes my accounting easier. Also, I think giving a client an invoice of $800 is much more presentable than a bill of $622.83. Round numbers also make it easier for clients to pay me with cash, which is my preferred method of payment. But really, it’s up to you.

Exception: certain industries are not allowed to charge their customers for GET, such as travel agents (see this article for more info).


Is it okay to pass the General Excise Tax onto my customers? How about for quotes?

As a business, you can tack on the GET onto your client or customer’s bill or invoice. This is also known as “visibly passing the tax onto the customer.” This method makes your customer pay it instead of you paying it out of the money you collect from the sale. You can also have the tax show up as a surcharge, meaning it shows up on a separate line on the bill/receipt/invoice.

Quoting: If you give quotes in your line of business like me, you can pass the GET to your customer only if you tell them or write that there is a certain % tax in addition to the quote.


If I say, “I want to make you an awesome website! Your quote: $50,000!”
 I cannot tack on GET — my bill must be for $50,000 flat.

If I say, “I want to make you an awesome website! Your quote: $50,000 plus tax!”
>> I still cannot tack on GET because I need to be specific about the rate (4%? 4.1666%? 4.5%? 4.712%?).

If I say “I want to make you an awesome website! Your quote: $50,000! (Plus 4.712% tax)”
>> Now I can tack on GET, because it is clear to the customer that they will have to pay tax in addition to the quoted amount.


How often do I pay the General Excise Tax? What’s a filing period?

Anywhere from every month to every 6 months – it depends on how much GET you expect to pay. The higher your expected GET, the more frequently you should pay.

If you pay this much in General Excise Taxes per year… You pay this often
less than or equal to $2000 every 6 months
more than $2000, but less than or equal to $4000 every 3 months
more than $4000 every month

Basically, the more money you make, the more often you pay, cause the state wants that tax money!

View original article

The filing period depends on when your tax year begins. Most of us use a calendar year, meaning our tax year starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. If you pay quarterly, then that means your 4 filing periods will be January to March, April to June, July to September, and October to December.

Note: You need to also file an annual reconciliation. The G-45 is for periodic payments, as mentioned above. However, you will also need to file a G-49, an annual return and reconciliation. It’s basically a form that checks to make sure the GET you paid is accurate at the end of the year. You need to file this to let the state mark you as filed for the year.

Why do you need a reconciliation? Let’s say you sell hula skirts and had $10,000 gross sales in January. You pay your GET that quarter. But then in October, that same customer returns all the hula skirts. You then refund his money. Those $10,000 of hula skirts are no longer a sale, so you should not have to pay GET on them. However, because you already paid GET on those hula skirts, you’ve overpaid GET. So, you then can use the reconciliation to get a refund. Or you can use the reconciliation to find out that you owe more than you’ve paid for the year.

Basically, it works the same way as regular taxes: you or your employer pay taxes periodically, and then at the end of the tax year, you check to see if you owe or if you’ll get a refund.


When are General Excise Taxes due?

For period GET (form G-45), your taxes are due 20 days after your filing period ends (as I said before, your filing period depends on how much you make). So if your tax year starts on January 1st, your quarters end on March 31, June 30, September 30, December 31. And then your GET is due on April 20, July 20, October 20, and January 20 respectively.

Here is an example of someone who pays quarterly GET:

Event Date
Tax year starts January 1, 2013
Quarter 1 ends March 31, 2013
Quarter 1 GET due April 20, 2013
Quarter 2 ends June 30, 2013
Quarter 2 GET due July 20, 2013
Quarter 3 ends September 30, 2013
Quarter 3 GET due October 20, 2013
Quarter 4 ends December 31, 2013
Quarter 4 GET due January 20, 2014

* this is only an example, you might pay monthly or only 2x a year, depending on your gross income.

For annual reconciliation (form G-49), your taxes are due on the 3 months and 20 days after your tax year ends. So if your tax year started on January 1, 2013, it ended December 31, 2013, and so your G-49 will be due on April 20, 2014.

Event Date
2013 Tax year started January 1, 2013
2013 Tax year ended December 31, 2013
2013 G.E.T. G-49 due date April 20, 2014


How do I get a General Excise license and how do I pay my GE taxes?

The business and GET registration process is very easy, thanks to the state making the entire process available online. You can also do it in person or mail in your forms, but it’s much easier to do it all online.

Note: there is a $20 application + $2.50 online charge. You can pay during the online process with a credit card.

Here’s how to get your General Excise Tax license:

  1. Register your business with the state of Hawaii (link here) and you will also apply for a State Tax ID (aka your General Excise Tax License Number) along the way. You need to consider what type of business you want to register as. Sole-Proprietor and Limited Liability Corporation are common choices, but you should talk with a CPA if you want to know the pros and cons of the different choices (scroll to the bottom for my CPA recommendation). If you’re a sole proprietor, you can also apply for a trade name (aka a business alias). Make the one-time registration payment and wait for your license to come in the mail. The registration process is for the purpose of getting your tax license. If your business is already registered with the State of Hawaii but you don’t have a General Excise Tax License Number or State Tax ID, then you can simply go here, search for your business name and then apply for a license number.
  2. Register for e-filing with eHawaii.gov. This will create an online account for you to pay your General Excise taxes online with a credit card.
  3. When it comes time to pay your GET, go to eHawaii.gov’s eFile, select form G-45 (General Excise Payments),  fill in the fields, your tax liability should be calculated automatically, and pay with your credit card.
  4. The business registration directory is public. To view your listing, go to Hawaii’s Business Registration Division or Department of Taxation – Tax Licenses.
This is the tax license the state gives you. Make it visible to show your clients that you are a law-abiding and responsible business owner.
This is the tax license the state gives you. Make it visible to show your clients that you are a law-abiding and responsible business owner.


What if I need to make changes to my business or to my payments?

There are a lot of things that can happen to your business. Here are some forms that might be helpful.

Name of Form Why Do We Need This Form?
GEW-TA-RV1 Cancel your GET license
GEW-TA-RV5 Make changes to your license (your name, officers, filing frequency)
ITPS-COA Change of address
amended G-45 Amend/change a previous G-45 filing
amended G-49 Amend/change a previous G-49 filing

Hawaii Tax Form List


Who doesn’t have to pay? Are there exceptions?

Here is a screenshot of the exemptions if you file online:

snapshot of exemptions during online filing of g45

As you can see, most of these exemptions make a lot of sense. For example, if you have bad debts (aka non payment) that means you never received the income, yet it was included in gross billings, so you need to exclude them. Or reimbursements, which if you buy something for your client at no markup as a matter of convenience, then you should not be paying GE tax on that. Non profit organizations is in there as well.

In general, if you have to ask this question, then you probably aren’t exempt from the GET. Entities like Non Profits, utility companies, and some selling securities/commodities are exempt from the GET. See this long document for details (Hawaii Revised Statute 237-23, 12/31/2012).

Organizations looking for GET exempt status would file G-6 (Application for Exempt Status for General Excise Taxes).

Reimbursements: if you paying for something on behalf of a client and there is no mark-up (meaning that you’re not profiting), then the amount is exempt from GET.

Example: I build a website for a client and it requires a special plugin software for $50. I buy it on behalf of my client then I tack the cost onto his final invoice along with the fee for the website. I don’t pay GET on that $50 reimbursement I get from the client.  If I pay $50 for the plugin and charge my client $150, then it’s not a reimbursement and I have to pay GET on the $150.

Out of state sales: if you’re selling tangible personal property out of the state, like, selling hula skirts to someone in Minnesota, the money you get from the sale is exempt from the GET (section 237-29.5(1), thanks Eva for mentioning this). The purchaser needs to fill out form G-61, “EXPORT EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE FOR GENERAL EXCISE AND LIQUOR TAXES” to cerify that they are out of state.

Wholesale customers pay a special rate of .5%.

Insurance commissions (Chapter 431, HRS) pay  .15%

Nonprofits don’t pay on donations received, but must on goods and services sold through fundraising.


Do Nonprofits pay no General Excise Tax?

Yes for donations received, but businesses can still pass their GET onto a nonprofit. Also, update: nonprofits still pay general excise tax on monies received from fundraising events because they are selling goods and services.

Registered nonprofits are exempt from paying GET on their business income. However, if that nonprofit contracts a business, then the nonprofit may be paying that business’ GET.



A church receives a $10,000 donation (that’s business income for them). The church is a registered nonprofit, meaning it’s GET-exempt, so they don’t pay any GET to the state for that donation.

Then the church hires me to build an online store for them for $10,000. I am for-profit and need to pay GET on my business income. I decide to pass the 4.712% GET onto the church as a surcharge. So, in the end, the church ends up paying me $10,471.20 ($10,000 base + GET surcharge). Then I put aside the $471.20 to pay to the state when time comes to pay my GET.


What is a wholesaler?

Wholesalers get a special GET rate of .5%.

What’s a wholesaler? Someone who sells goods in bulk to other businesses to sell for retail. An example would be an electronics company, who sell and deliver mass electronics to places like Best Buy, Radioshack, or Walmart. Wholesalers usually have smaller margins than retailers because they make money on large quantities of transactions, which is why the tax rate is lower for them.

If you’re selling to customers or end users, you are not a wholesaler.

Do rates change if you’re a sub-contractor?

If there are subcontractors involved, no there is not an endless tax on every subcontractor in the chain. Rather, the the sub-contractor working directly with the end customer(s) will be charged the full rate, while the transaction between the sub-contractor and contractor is at a lower rate of .5%.

Answer from DAVID W RISTAU CPA‘s conversation:

Roland: “I am a contractor. I use subcontractors.The build in their 4.5% GET on their invoices to me. I do the same with my invoice to my client, including paying 4.5% GET on the amount of subcontractor cost built into my price. So the state is collecting at least twice (maybe more, since the subs buy materials from local businesses). No wonder the state is bankrupting local businesses.”
David Ristau: “If you’re being charged 4.5% by your subs, something is wrong in the preparation of your returns. The subs should be charging you 0.5% GE tax and you charge your end customer 4.5% and deduct the sub-contractors on your GE filings via Schedule GE to report the subs. State isn’t bankrupting businesses because of incorrectly prepared and filed GE forms…the small business is shooting itself in the foot by not seeking competent help in preparing the GE forms.”


Additional Reading

Big article right? If you have more questions, you might want to look at these articles:

Passing On Hawaii’s General Excise Tax Not Possible for Some by Lowell Kapala, Hawaii Reporter

Oahu County Surcharge FAQs by Hawaii Department of Taxation

FAQs by Hawaii Department of Taxation

General Excise Tax License Required for Business Activity by Fred Pablo, Hawaii Tax Director

Tax Facts 96-1: General Excise Tax vs Sales Tax by Hawaii Department of Taxation

Tax Facts 97-3: Starting a Business, Licenses and Taxes by Hawaii Department of Taxation

O’ahu stores can tax up to 4.712% by Greg Wiles


Disclaimer / Last Note: I am not a tax professional nor do I work for the Hawaii tax department. If you have more questions, look through the comments or call the State Tax Department.

393 comments on “Everything You Need to Know About The Hawaii General Excise Tax

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  1. Ron,
    I have a ge tax license from doing real estate in hawaii about 7 years ago, but I now need to pay ge tax for a rental property i own there. Can I use the same ge tax license i already have or do i need to file for a new one since it is a different business?

    1. The licenses are assigned to businesses or individuals. If you are operating under a new business, you’ll need a new license. If the license was assigned to your name and not a business, then you can use the same one. If you are the same business but your details have changed, like address or filing period, you can fill a form to amend your license info.

    1. Hawaii has no sales tax. In it’s place is the general excise tax. It serves a similar purpose (taking a cut of business transactions), but it works a bit differently. So you don’t charge your customers any sales tax.

  2. Hi Ron,

    If our company is selling some tangible goods to a customer located in California and they are tax exempt (resellers) but the goods are shipped to Hawaii, should we charge/collect the general excise tax from them? Are they still tax exempt on the goods like when the goods are shipped to other states?

    Thanks very much for your help.



    1. theres an exemption for out of state exports for tangible goods. they have to fill g61 form though to verify that its out of state.

  3. I did occasional consulting for many years back in the “last century”. From 2000 to 2007 my GE Tax was “$0” (no consulting income) which is the last year I filed. I’ve been asked to do some consulting (starting Jan 2014) and need to catch up on my GE Tax filings – my check of myGE Tax license number online says my tax license is “open” which I assume means still active.
    Question 1: Do I need to file a return for each year ’08 – ’13 or just one return for 2013?
    Question 2 (assuming I need to file each past year separately): Do I need to file the semi-annual as well as the annual return & reconciliation, that is, 3 separate returns for each of those years?
    Thank you a great blog!

    1. if you go by the book,you need to at least file an annual g49 for your get. even if its zero, cause not filing suggests that you may have getaxes owed and are late with payments. filing the annual lets themknow you filed and, made zero.

  4. Tangible item sales seem to be exempt from resale transactions to the Dept of Defense in Hawaii properties but are professional services also exempt from the .5%. Can you tell me which tax announcement I should review to understand these tax exemptions?

  5. Hi Ron. Thanks for the excellent explanation about the GET. I have a question that I think I already know the answer to: I have a Utah company that performs IT consulting work for clients all over the country. Two of its primary employees reside in Hawaii and provide consulting services to non-Hawaii clients (through the Colorado company) while in Hawaii. Is the Company required to collect GET for the services provided by these employees?

  6. HI there,
    My husband is an “independent” contractor. He is a charter boat captain who gets 1099’ed from the company he works for. the company pays him and not the customers. does this count as a business does he need to pay the GE

    1. Yes. 1099s are what companies file when they work with freelancers or independent contractors, both of which are considered businesses, so yes, he needs to pay GET.

      1. Would Elizabeth’s husband be considered a wholesale services provider and pay general excise taxes at a rate of 0.5% since he is selling his to a business that would then be paying the full excise tax rate on what the customer pays?

  7. Hi Ron,
    I just noticed that the link you have for business registration is no longer working (Page Not Found). Any idea what the new one is?

  8. My husband and I are looking into starting an etsy shop with things we both make online. If I have a GE license does he need one too?

    1. Laura,

      Depends on your business classification. If you’re a “sole proprietorship”, he’d need to be an employee and then wouldn’t need a license. Or if he’s an independent contractor for your business, he’d need his own license. A lot of husband/wife businesses operate as a partnership, in which case there’d be a single license for their business and not for any 1 person. Or you might qualify to be a “joint venture”… see the IRS link below.


      If you’re thinking about the best tax situation / business classification for a married couple, you should definitely consult with a CPA.

  9. I and my busness reside in CA. I received a purchase order for installation of cabinets in Oahu from a company located in New York. I sent my men to Oahu, they installed the cabinets and I were paid from the company in New York. Do I pay GET taxes on that income?
    I apprecite your help,

    1. Monica,

      That is a super difficult question and I recommend you consult with a CPA. Reason is this: although it sounds like a simple cross-state, CA-NY transaction, the same was thought of mainland travel companies selling Hawaii hotel bookings to mainlanders planning a Hawaii vacation. Those businesses and their customers were not in Hawaii, but the hotels were. The state of Hawaii eventually sued those travel companies for excise taxes not paid and won.

  10. Thank you for all this info!

    I’m from California and I received a bill from a local freelancer who performed services for me while on a job in Hawaii. That invoice includes an excise tax. As a general rule, we don’t charge sales or income tax on freelance invoices- work is usually done at a flat daily rate. Am I required to pay this excise tax?

    1. Gino,

      The GET is not a sales tax. It is applied to business transactions in Hawaii. Some businesses pay it out of their own gross sales but most tack it onto their client’s invoices as a surcharge (meaning the client pays the GET).

      You were in Hawaii and hired a local to do work for you? If so, then yes, that excise tax is something that needs to be paid. It’s the same as you paying excise tax on your hotel fee, car rental, or when you bought food in Hawaii.

  11. Hi Ron,

    I wish your blog on this topic was around eight years ago! About eight years ago, I spent hours on the phone and in person at their windows to get the same answers and make sure I understood the process, obligations, and requirements.

    So now that I have established a small business under services for independent contract work, my question is, can I use the same GET license for a different type of “service?” For example, say I’m using my current GET license to do massages (service). But, now I want to teach massage as an independent contractor or be a presenter (on a different topic) hired as an independent contractor. Can I use the same or will I need to open a new one?

    Thank you in advance for any light you can shed on my situation.

    1. Caramia,

      I honestly believe that if tax instructions were more clear, then more people would be paying taxes. Cause when things are easy, people are more likely to do them.

      As for your question, the license is assigned to a business. A business can have many streams of income. Me for example, I develop websites, but I also do website tutoring, consulting, and a couple times I’ve helped clients with computer problems. It’s different stuff, but all of that money goes towards my business.

      So, if you are making money as the same business in both cases, then you only need 1 license. In fact, I’ve seen some companies register a business alias (DBA) and they do several things that are not related at all. Same company though.

    2. I was at the State Dept Taxation yesterday and was told that I needed to file the form GEW-TA-RV5 to change the NAICS business code to reflect the nature (type) of my business. So, one cannot change their nature of business and just assume all is pono with the tax authorities. That makes sense since GET tax rates vary as you have noted. It is #5 on the form. If in doubt, consult a tax professional.

  12. do you charge tax on online purchase from customer in and shipped to another state.
    We are in Waimea Kauai and want to sell a t shirt to someone online in California

    1. Richard,

      Yes, you will be paying GET if you are selling T-shirts. If you are doing business in Hawaii, the GET is simply a percentage of your gross sales, no matter where your customers are from.

      What you’re thinking about is sales tax. GET is not a sales tax. How cross-state sales tax would work is if you had a store in California (legally referred to as a “physical presence”), then you would be collecting sales tax from that customer’s sale.

      Hope this helps.

      1. I have a feeling that’s this is incorrect. Form G-45 has an exemption for out of state sales, code 237-29.5(1) which specifies goods will be shipped and used out of state. I’ve been selling online for 3 years and I’ve never had to pay GET from out of state sales.

        1. Thanks Eva. I’m going to be doing an update to the article soon when I have time. Appreciate your insight… you even pointed out the clause!

          1. You’re welcome. I would be very interested in your update! I know about Hawaii getting money back from companies like Expedia, but ultimately those tourists came here, versus when you ship out of state the goods leave the state altogether. Great article Ron. Mahalo.

  13. My friend has a very small one man business. His business got slow and he got behind in paying his GE taxes because he wasn’t bringing in very much money and after he paid rent, his phone and gas, there was nothing left to pay the tax. What would the procedure be for him to try and catch up on his GE tax?

    1. Hi “Mom,”

      Before I answer, I just want to say that your question points out a problem with the GET: it’s a tax on gross sales, and not profit, so that means even if you lost money, you still have to pay GET.

      Moving on… one thing about falling behind on taxes is that the tax guys expect payment. So if you suddenly stop paying, they’ll notice and they might come after you. I say “might” because some businesses don’t pay enough GET for the tax guys to care. If your friend was paying a lot of GET and he suddenly stops paying, then he should be worried a bit.

      One of my clients, a restaurant, fell behind on their GET. The client was grossing a lot per month, so they were required to pay GET monthly. When they stopped paying due to hard times, the state then revoked their liquor license and that messed things up for their business.

      So, my suggestion is to catch up ASAP. He will also need to pay interest on late payments as well.

  14. Hi Ron , Thank you for the useful info. I have a rental where I live on the Big Island . I did not know I had to pay get . This goes back 2 years . Any advice on how to amend this ? Aloha Chris

    1. Chris,

      I’m sure many people doing business or running rentals in Hawaii don’t know that they have to pay the GET. Have you heard the news of the state going after Online Travel Agents for hundreds of millions in unpaid taxes (link)?

      I can’t say for sure what would be the best approach here. Here’s my suggestion:

      1. Register for a license (instructions are in this article).
      2. Pay the back taxes you owe. You may also have to pay interest or late fees on the balance you owe.
      3. Start incorporating the GET into your accounting.

      Talk to my CPA friend Jack (site) if you need more guidance.


  15. Thanks so much for your helpful info. Couldn’t find it anywhere else! Do you happen to know how much I would have to charge in GE tax if I rent my condo on Maui short term?

  16. Thanks for the 411. It’s very clear. My husband has a small business, a single-member LLC with the fiscal year ending in 9/30. The business has been operating at a loss since it started last year. This year I’m doing his bookkeeping and filing his G45. I would like to change the fiscal year to the calendar year. Do you think I can get away with deviating from the business application and change to a calendar year without changing paperwork?

    1. Eileen,

      I’m glad that it’s clear for you. As for your question, I suggest that you formally request a change of information with the tax department. It’s likely you’ll have to fill out a form and wait for them to approve. I don’t recommend changing without notice because if you change your FY dates, that changes when your payments would be due (both GET and regular taxes). And if the state tax dept expects payment at a certain date because of the FY they have on file and they don’t payment, that might raise a flag with them.

      The above is just my opinion. If you really want more insight on the topic, you should consult with my CPA friend, Jack (http://www.windwardaccountant.com/).

      Also, here is a bit on due dates on the G45 instructions:

      Due Dates
      Form G-45 is due on or before the 20th day of the calendar month following the end of the filing period. For example, if your filing period ends on January 31st, then your return will be due on February 20th.

      Form G-49 is due on or before the 20th day of the 4th month following the close of the tax year. For taxpayers on a calendar year, this return will be due on April 20th.

      NOTE: If any due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, substitute the next regular work day as the due date.

      1. Hi Ron

        Me and my husband’s jobs are both 1099. And we also do life insurance sales and he does a little securities/investment sales. We get 1099’s on these also Not sure if I’m doing our GE tax correctly. Please advise

  17. Hey Ron, since you do online services for clients I have a quick question for you. Let’s say someone from California or Arizona wants you to build their website and you receive income from those clients. Do you have to pay state taxes in CA and AZ? I just moved to Oahu and I’m trying to figure this out.

    1. Lorel,

      Good question. I think cross-state business is always a confusing topic and thus, a good topic to discuss.

      To answer your question, we follow the flow of money. If I reside in Hawaii and a CA person hires me, their money comes to me, and thus, that business transacts in Hawaii, thus it’s tax money for Hawaii (GET). If I hire someone in CA, then the money goes to them, that business transacts in CA, thus it’s subject to California state tax (I think ~7%), but not the Hawaii GET.

      In terms of state taxes, you pay taxes to whichever state you are technically a resident of. Those resident laws are super confusing so you should definitely consult with a CPA familiar with cross-state or cross-country commerce and have them assess your unique situation.


  18. mahalo plenny for the useful info…and the recommendation for the tax person. I want to start a small business but have little knowledge about how all this works, so this really helped me 🙂

    1. You’re welcome Shelli. Small business owners need to wear a lot of different hats , but it’s still a good idea to consult with a CPA or other professionals like lawyers or business coaches who can help give you a head start on doing business. I actually wishes I had hired a business coach when I first started… instead I just started from scratch and that’s really doing things the hard way.


  19. Aloha Ron,
    My husband is law enforcement, but sometimes he is offered “off duties”, which are jobs where he is paid by check by the company hiring him to do things like traffic control. He is not being paid by they county like his paychecks so there are no taxes taken from his check, does he need to get a GET ID?

    1. Hi Danielle,

      The answer is probably “yes.” Here’s why:

      If you’re an employee (you work for someone), your employer automatically takes care of the tax stuff for you, so you only need to file your taxes once in April. As for the General Excise Tax, it doesn’t affect employees, because it’s aimed at business transactions.

      If you’re an independent contractor (you work for yourself), no one takes care of the tax stuff, so you have to do it yourself. An independent contractor (aka self-employed aka freelancer) is a business, so that means each business transaction (selling goods or providing services for money) are taxed by the state via GET. The GET is separate from regular taxes on gross income, by the way.

      I hope this helps. Contact a CPA or call the State Tax Department if you need more help.

      – RON

  20. Ron,

    This is one of the clearest explanations of an opaque tax. I finally understand why businesses add 4.712% to most sales, even when the GET is set at 4.5% (on O’ahu).

    Just one thing: “Jerry Maguire” ordered the chicken katsu, not the loco moco 🙂 Since the lunch truck provided him with loco moco (not katsu) and he will most likely return the purchase for a refund, does that mean the business will return 4.5% or 4.712% in tax surcharge? If the former, does the business have to pay GET on the difference?

    1. Mike,

      The GET is part of the sale. A refund would negate the sale. The money from the purchase would be refunded, including the GET surcharge. And you would not longer need to pay the state GET on that refunded item.

      Oh, and thanks for catching that mistake. I must’ve been hungry for Zippy’s when I wrote that example.


    1. David,

      I believe that these tax licenses expire naturally. This also means that they can expire and that people need to renew them.

      Otherwise, if you’re wanting to close your license and get off the tax registration database, then you should call the Department of Taxation at (808) 587-4242. I’m sure there’s a wonderfully painful process for you to go through to close the license.


  21. I sent in my GE tax obligation but have not received my cancelled check. I do not want to be charged late fees. I want to know if you have processed it or are running late. My tax ID #
    is 00040242-01

    1. Richard,

      I don’t work for the tax department – I’m just a regular contractor that wrote this article to educate people.

      You need to call the State Tax Department at (808) 587-1540.

    1. In terms of taxable income, GET should have no effect if you’re having your customers pay the max GET.

      Let’s say you sell $60,000 worth of goods (not including GET) and you tacked on 4.712% GET for your customers. That means you’ve collected an additional $2,827.20 from sales. However, you have to pay all this additional money to the state as GET. So…

      $60,000 (gross sales)
      + $2,827.20 (GET surcharge)
      – $2,827.20 (GET expense)
      = $60,000

      It’s a wash, Billy.

      However, if you pay GET yourself and not as a surcharge to your customers, then that’s going to be business expense which will lower your taxable income.

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