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Understanding the Harpta Tax

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When it comes to real estate transactions in Hawaii, you may have come across the term “Harpta Tax.” This tax, officially known as the Hawaii Real Property Tax Act, has become a topic of interest for many individuals looking to buy or sell property in the state. In this blog post, we will delve into what the Harpta Tax is, its purpose, and how it impacts buyers and sellers.

What is the Harpta Tax?

The Harpta Tax, short for Hawaii Real Property Tax Act, was enacted in 1997 to address the issue of capital gains tax evasion on real estate transactions. Under this law, a withholding tax is imposed on the sale of real property in Hawaii by non-resident individuals or entities. The purpose of this tax is to ensure that the state collects its fair share of taxes on gains derived from the sale of real estate.

Impact on Buyers and Sellers

The Harpta Tax primarily affects sellers who are non-residents of Hawaii. When a non-resident sells their property, the buyer is required to withhold 7.25% of the sale price as a deposit towards the seller's potential tax liability. This withholding is done at the time of closing and is submitted to the Hawaii Department of Taxation. The seller can then file a tax return to reconcile the actual tax liability based on the gain from the sale of the property. If the withholding amount exceeds the tax liability, the excess is refunded to the seller. For buyers, it is important to be aware of the Harpta Tax requirements when purchasing property from a non-resident seller. Failure to comply with the withholding requirement can result in the buyer being held liable for the tax. It is recommended to work with a knowledgeable real estate professional or tax advisor to ensure compliance with the Harpta Tax provisions.


The Harpta Tax is an important aspect of real estate transactions in Hawaii, especially for non-resident sellers. By imposing a withholding tax, the state aims to prevent capital gains tax evasion and ensure fair taxation on gains from the sale of real property. Buyers need to be aware of their responsibilities when purchasing property from a non-resident seller to avoid any potential tax liabilities. Understanding the Harpta Tax and seeking professional advice can help navigate the complexities of this law and ensure a smooth real estate transaction process.



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