No tax on food, medical services, and feminine hygiene products. How does that sound? It’s a proposal from Republican lawmakers to help with Hawaii’s high cost of living.

The measure, HB 610, would exempt certain foods, medical services, and feminine hygiene products from the General Excise Tax. Representative Lauren Matsumoto says dozens of states already have similar tax exemptions so it’s about time Hawaii does too. 

“When we talk about eliminating the GET on food that is just on groceries from the supermarket. If you go out to eat, out at restaurants, you still pay GET on that because it’s still seen as more of a want versus your groceries are really basic necessities and a need,” said Rep. Matsumoto. 

We asked how much revenue would be lost if these categories are cut from the GET?

“There’s a really high overestimate of $132 million. The Tax Department doesn’t actually get the specific data on each of those categories; however, something we always talk about is efficiency in government. So one of the bills I’m introducing this year is for a financial database so you’re able to exactly know what we’re spending things on and so we are able to cut some of that wasteful spending,” said Rep. Matsumoto, “you don’t always have to come with additional taxes to make up the revenue. It’s making sure we look where we can tighten up.”