Super Simple Guide to Hawaii GET (General Excise Taxes)

A super simple guide to Hawaii GE (general excise tax). Learn what you need to know about these taxes.

Warning: Every tax situation is different and you may need more forms that are presented here. This is an introductory guide only, and we recommend having your tax forms filed by a professional. We try to keep all of our pages current, but some of the information presented on this page may be out-dated. Please read all Hawaii State-provided form instructions carefully.

Tax Services Oahu | Hawaii General Excise Tax Services

What is Hawaii GE Tax?

Hawaii General Excise Tax is an additional tax (totally in addition to federal and state income tax)  on the gross income of most Hawaii businesses and other activities.  It’s very similar, but not exactly so, to a common state sales tax. Hawaii implemented this tax in place of sales tax, which is imposed by most other states.

Hawaii GE Tax is generally farther reaching than a typical sales tax, but the total rates are also much lower than a typical state’s sales tax.

Do I have to pay Hawaii General Excise Tax?

If you are asking – then you probably do. If you have self employment/business income, you are an independent contractor, make sales commissions as a non-employee, or you have rental income from being a landlord, then you have to file and pay Hawaii GET. Many other activities are subject to the tax as well.

There are a few exceptions, but these are somewhat rare. For a quick list of the exemptions, check out the form “Schedule GE” and look at the instructions at the bottom. For a complete list in detail, you can reference the General Excise Tax Law found here.

Note that even if you are exempt form Hawaii GE Taxes, you still have to file the tax returns to claim any exemption.

If you would like to read more about paying Hawaii GE Tax on your property rental, click here.

How much is Hawaii GE Tax?

2020 UPDATE: The statewide normal tax rate is 4%. But on Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island there is a 0.5% surcharge.

For many wholesalers and manufacturers with a wholesale certificate, the rate is 0.5%. Insurance commissions might pay at an even lesser rate, depending on the situation.

You generally cannot exclude your typical business expenses and deductions like you can with “income tax”. Instead, GE tax is computed based on your gross money received, before expenses, even if you did not make a profit.

How often do I have to file and pay?

Filing frequency requirements depend on how much tax you have to pay, or expect to have to pay in a year.

  • If you pay more than $4,000 total in Hawaii GE Tax during the year, you are required to file on a monthly basis.
  • If you pay less than $4,000 in GE Taxes during the year you file on a quarterly basis.
  • If you pay less than $2,000 in GE Taxes during the year you file semi-annually.

For more information about GE Tax filing frequencies, click here to see our guide on this subject.

Can I pass the tax along to my customers or tenants?

Yes you can – but you still must file the GE Tax Returns (forms) and pay the department of taxation the amount due. Actually, you can (and should) collect more of a percentage than you pay.  If you do not do that, you will be out of pocket for some of the amount. The reason for this is complicated. If you would like to know more about passing Hawaii GE Tax along to customers, click here.

How do I get a GE Tax License?

If you have rental income or are starting a small business (or other self employment) you need form BB1 to apply for your General Excise Tax License. It also allows you to enroll for tax withholding and the unemployment insurance tax (and other licenses), if applicable.

Note that this form can also be completed electronically at the Hawaii Business Registration website.

Complete the form and include payment according to the registration fee worksheet, which is part of the form. Specific instructions to filling out the form are also included within the form, so please read those carefully.

You can hire us to complete and file it for you, as a third party, if you are unsure about how to fill it out correctly. We’re sorry, but for several reasons, we cannot answer your questions about filling out this form or help you to fill out this form yourself. This is due to liability, legal, and ethical issues.

This form should be completed right away if you intend to do business in Hawaii (or rent property). In some cases, you may have to wait for the Federal Tax Identification Number of your business entity if you are just organizing things.

Form BB-1 can be filed online or mailed.

How do I file the tax returns?

The Hawaii G-45 Form must be filled out and filed periodically at a frequency depending on how much GE Tax you have to pay for the year. They are due the 20th day following the period for which they are being filed.

Payment can also be submitted along with this form, whether submitted in person, mailed, or e-filed.

We offer a G45 filing service (click here). Also you can contact us here.

Anything else? Yes, the G-49

At the end of the year you have to file one more Hawaii GE Tax return (form) called the G-49. This form summarizes and reconciles the activity for the year – and often will not need accompanying payment.

Hawaii GE Tax Forms – Instructions for Filing General Excise / Use Tax Return

There are the complete instructions and the official state guide to Hawaii General Excise Tax posted on the Hawaii DOT website. This includes step by step instructions for filling out the tax return forms and for amended tax returns as well.

Filing frequency requirements are included in the instructions. There is also more important information about GE Tax exemptions and other specific tax activity classifications within these instructions. If your Hawaii GE Tax situation is more complex, you may need to file additional forms, as well.

If you received a letter saying that you owe Hawaii General Excise Tax or Transient Accommodations Tax, click here for help.

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Please note that for liability and other reasons, we will not provide tax advice in the comments section.


  1. hello! I am 81 and still rent out 2 rooms in my house which I share with my guests. i have problems leaving my house due to my balance and falling. up until now I have submitted your paper fprms and had someone bring my payment to you to the post office. I live on Molokai. I don’t know anyone who would come to my house to help me fill out online forms. this has to be done by mid January. now I am getting anxious about what to do. last year I suddenly got a big bill and a fine from you, I paid it but I don’t know what i did that is wrong. please help! I got only basic computer skills.

  2. Thank you for the info! I don’t live in Hawaii, but I have a timeshare in Oahu that I would like to rent out once in a while. Would I have to pay GET and TAT?

  3. What if you rent out a space to a tax exempt entity like a Church? Do I still need to pay GET even though they do not pay GET to me?

  4. New to Hawaii tax filing. called customer service and heard for annual filing as non resident I can take federal schedule C net and apply that to federal. Sounds easy but filling out the annual form it only has location for revenue and exemptions. Just need some basic direction.

  5. I would like to know:
    If I pay GE tax when purchasing my COGS because I cant get inventory at wholesale, can I minus that amount I was charged already, from the GE Tax my business owes on sales?

  6. Very New to Hawaii GET tax filing. Your website is super informative and thank you very much for making GET so easy to understand. It seems like something we can easily manage ourselves thanks to your blog.
    We just learnt for the first time about this GET tax and have a backlog to pay up on our rental that we have now owned for almost 10 years.
    If you think there is any help you guys can offer (short of having to just pay whats being asked for) please do contact us

  7. We purchaced a business and the people that we bought the business from financed us, are we required to pay GE tax to them?

  8. I have a concern about GE#’s being made public. As it is used to purchase and claim income as a legitimate business, should GE#’s be kept private as they could be used by others to falsely represent purchases or claim income for your business?

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