L.A. OKs tax break for some scribes at home

Agreement comes after four months of talks

Negotiators for the city of Los Angeles and the Writers Guild of America West have reached an agreement designed to exempt screenwriters and other creative artists who work at home from having to pay city business taxes.

The pact, reached this week after four months of discussion, triggered a unanimous vote by the Los Angeles City Council to drop its opposition to State Assembly Bill 83, authored by Assemblyman Tony Cardenas (D-Sylmar).

AB 83 would prohibit municipalities from requiring business taxes (such as permits or licenses) from those who work from their homes if they meet federal or state standards for being employees rather than independent contractors who must pay the levies.

In exchange, the WGAW plans to drop its opposition to AB 1992, authored by Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), which would give city tax officials increased access to business tax records filed with the state’s Franchise Tax Board.

Union to review

The agreement will go to the union’s board for approval later this month.

“What both sides want to do is exempt people who are acting as employees while still allowing the city to go after people who are breaking the law,” said Peter Wong, an aide to City Councilman Mike Feuer.

The council voted in 1997 to require all people conducting business at home to obtain a permit and pay business taxes.

But unions and writers’ organizations, led by the WGAW, argued that the law was unfair to the show business community, and the council agreed last year to limit the scope of the law by imposing federal standards of determining if a home business was operated as an independent contractor.

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