Tax plank sacked

Pol set to revive bill to help cities track writers

In a victory for industry freelancers, a bill that would give Los Angeles and other charter cities access to personal tax records has been voted down by the California Senate Appropriations Committee.

The bill, AB701, authored by Louis Caldera (D-Los Angeles), was defeated by the Appropriations Committee 3-2, with eight committee members not voting. Cities – and potentially accounting firms contracted by the municipalities – would have access to a taxpayer’s name, address, social security number and business activity code.

Caldera is expected to reintroduce AB701 within 10 days. The bill has already passed in the state Assembly.

Extra muscle

If eventually passed and signed by Gov. Pete Wilson, the new law would give extra muscle to charter cities such as Los Angeles, which have proposed stiff penalties against all home-based businesses that do not register with the city by Sept. 5 (Daily Variety, April 17). Under city ordinance, writers, editors, publicists and others who work from home would be considered businesses and, as such, subject to a city business tax.

Writers Guild of America West officials had signed off on Los Angeles’ aggressive home-based business tax, saying that a majority of guild members are employees, and thus the new policy would not affect writers.

But WGAW officials have since changed course and are in favor of a writers’ exemption from Los Angeles’ proposed new tax. On Tuesday, a WGAW spokeswoman said the guild is also not fundamentally against California’s AB701, but rather advocates an exemption for scribes and other people whose work involves First Amendment issues.

Kenneth Bernstein, a planning deputy to Los Angeles councilwoman Laura Chick, said the city is awaiting the results of a report that will give historic grounds for giving city tax exemptions to writers, authors and other creators. The report is expected to be delivered next month.

Councilwoman Chick originally spearheaded the Home Occupations Ordinance, which allows home-based business to operate legally within the city, but also subjects them to the city’s business tax.

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