Lawsuit challenging solar tax credit reduction thrown out

Court ruled it did not have the legal authority, jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit

Published  5:42 PM HST Jun 14, 2013
City ending exempt on permit fees for Photovoltaic systems
HONOLULU -

A major win for the state tax office Friday after a Circuit Court judge threw out a lawsuit challenging a decision to reduce solar tax credits for homeowners and businesses.

The state maintained it was losing too much money and needed to curb the tax breaks. The Sierra Club sued to invalidate the rules but the judge dismissed the suit.

"The reason why the court dismissed the case is that the court agreed with the state that it did not have the legal authority or jurisdiction to hear the lawsuit," said Hugh Jones, Supervising Deputy Attorney in the Tax Division of the Hawai?i Attorney General's office.

Jones said if a taxpayer lost out on a credit, the legal recourse would be to go to tax appeals court.

Earthjustice attorney Dave Henkin said he was disappointed with the ruling, but said he did not know if the Sierra Club would appeal the ruling.

Lawmakers tried but failed to reach a compromise to clarifying the current law.

Jones said the state tax office would be moving to make the temporary rules permanent.

In the latest count of solar photovoltaic permits issued in Honolulu, the total number of residential photovoltaic permits issued in the week of May 27 through June 2 was 221, up 22.1 percent from the previous week and up 27 percent from the same period last year.

Honolulu's total value of residential PV permits was $5.5 million, up 2.9 percent from the previous week, but down 7.2 percent from the same period last year.  In the year-to-date, Honolulu's total value of residential PV permits reached $148.1 million, an 11.9 percent increase from the same period last year.

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