Contact: Gabriel Scott (323) 782-4603
 
News Release: June 26, 2003
Update on L.A. City Business Talks and Information Outline from the Guild's Legal Advisors

*Due to the November 17, 2004, City Council action, this site will be updated soon.

A brief history
Unlike cities such as West Hollywood, Los Angeles has a business tax that it levies on professional persons as well as more traditional businesses like manufacturers and retailers. The Guild's efforts to demonstrate to the City that writers are not businesses began in 1997 when the City first announced it would tax writers and other talent and crafts workers in the entertainment industry. Although some writers have established companies with employees and offices, most writers are employed by companies and do not see themselves as engaged in "business" activities. Guild representatives have met with numerous City officials in an effort to clarify when writers would and would not be subject to the tax. The Guild also sought a common understanding with City officials as to which exemptions and exclusions in the Byzantine L.A. Tax Code should apply to a writer's earnings.

At the state level, the The Guild also sponsored legislation that was authored by Assembly member Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood). That bill requires cities throughout California to look beyond how an individual reports their income to the IRS and State Franchise Tax Board to determine if these earnings are subject to a local business tax. The Legislature passed our bill and Governor Gray Davis signed it into law in January 2002.

In two separate initiatives the Guild has met with City officials in an attempt to bring clarity to the application of the L.A. tax to writers. City representatives have acknowledged from the beginning that the Business Tax Code is outdated and complex. Their enforcement efforts have been inconsistent and confusing to writers and other talent in the entertainment industry. In years 2000 and 2001, the City agreed to issue a private letter ruling that could be used by writers to determine if they were subject to the tax and how it might apply in a variety of circumstances. Despite lengthy negotiations, the City never issued the ruling. Then elections and a new City Charter changed the key players in L.A. government.

In 2002, the City asked the WGA to join them in a renewed effort to prepare written guidelines that could be used by writers and other talent to determine if they were subject to the tax, and how exclusions and exemptions would apply. City officials set a goal of completing the guidelines by September 2002. Budget crises and repeated missteps by the City's Office of Finance, Tax and Permit Division in its general administration of the tax halted progress. Early this year, at the request of the Mayor's Office, the Guild provided statistics to reassure the City that adopting the guidelines would not significantly impact L.A. tax revenues. Still, the City's commitments to a more reasonable and simplified interpretation of the Code started to melt away. That effort is now stalled within the City bureaucracy.

The current situation
The amnesty on interest and penalties that was passed by the City Council for taxpayers with a tax bill under $500 for one tax year expires June 30, 2003. In order to assure that members who might be subject to the tax may take advantage of the amnesty, the Guild is releasing the following outline to better inform you and your tax advisors. Entertainment tax specialists at the law firm of Armstrong Hirsch Jackoway Tyerman & Wertheimer prepared the outline. These experienced outside counsel have advised us throughout the recent negotiations with the City. As the outline makes clear, the Guild provides it for general information purposes; the outline is not legal advice and Guild staff cannot provide members with tax advice. Writers are strongly cautioned to consult with personal tax advisors as to their individual circumstances and most prudent approach.

Although the outline has been prepared for writers, persons in other talent groups and their CPAs and business managers are welcome to review the general information presented in consultation with their own counsel.

The inability of City staff to finalize the guidelines and live up to the commitments made to the Guild by two administrations has produced confusion and frustration for both individuals and their professional tax consultants. This lack of clarity, on top of the problematic Code itself and ineffectual Office of Finance, has caused some tax advisors to tell their clients to ignore enforcement notices from the City. The Guild does not endorse or advocate that advice, yet it is the unfortunate result of bureaucratic inaction.

Ultimately, the Office of Finance reports to the Mayor. The legal interpretations of the Business Tax Code are issued by the City Attorney's office. Representatives of these offices initially played a positive and central role in the 2002 negotiations. Although they expressed a strong commitment to producing useful guidelines, the fact remains that the official guidelines have not been issued.

There are several officials we want to thank for their responsiveness and support. In particular, Assembly member Paul Koretz was our champion in Sacramento and continues to support us through this process. Newly elected L.A. City Council member Tony Cardenas was our bill's original author, and we are grateful for his support through several legislative sessions. We also greatly appreciate the work of Council member Wendy Greuel, who chairs the Council's Ad Hoc Committee on Business Tax Reform. She is very attuned to the concerns of the entertainment industry on these issues, and is dedicated to meaningful tax reform over the coming months. Council member Tom LaBonge, also a member of the Ad Hoc Committee, has been our vocal advocate and supporter. We also want to thank the members of the City's Business Tax Advisory Committee (BTAC), and in particular, Mel Kohn, president, and Jack Walker, vice-president. Both have worked along side us through countless meetings with City officials over the past four years, and are dedicated to fair tax treatment of talent.

Moving forward with business tax reform in L.A.
Nobody is happy with the City's existing business tax. The Mayor and City Council have pledged to replace or significantly change it. In the next few months, Council member Greuel's Ad Hoc Committee will make recommendations to the full Council for the overhaul of the business tax. A positive result of our efforts has been to greatly raise the profile of writers in this process. A number of City representatives have sought the Guild's continued input in the push for reform, and have pledged to give writers' issues high priority. The Guild will continue to participate in those deliberations to seek the fair and equitable treatment of writers in any future tax system.

As you review the outline, you'll read that one of the criteria for the Motion Picture Producer classification in the existing Code is "the development of a story". Just as the development of a story in the production of a motion picture is a collaboration of numerous artists -- the writer, the director, performers, the cinematographer, editor, art director, costume designer, musicians and all of the talented crafts that contribute to the final production -- the success of this effort over the coming months will depend on our unity.

The DGA, SAG, IATSE (Local 44, Affiliated Property Craftspersons; Local 47, Professional Musicians; Local 80, Motion Picture Studio Grips), the Musicians Secondary Market Fund, and the Recording Musicians Association of L.A., have all testified publicly in support of the need for clarity and fairness in the application of the tax code to talent. Together we represent hundreds of thousands of employees that contribute to the economic vitality of Los Angeles. Together we can finally assure that all who struggle to make a living in show business are treated fairly by our City officials.

By Cheryl Rhoden, Assistant Executive Director, & Doreen Braverman, General Counsel


INFORMATION OUTLINE -- CITY OF LOS ANGELES BUSINESS TAX
by Alan J. Epstein and Myreon Hodur, attorneys, Armstrong Hirsch Jackoway Tyerman & Wertheimer, P.C.

Our law firm has been hired by the WGA west ("WGA") to advise the WGA on the applicability of the City of Los Angeles Business Tax to the WGA's writers. Together with Doreen Braverman and Cheryl Rhoden of the WGA, we have been actively engaged in a process with the City of Los Angeles ("City") to develop written guidelines which can be relied upon by taxpayers and used by the Office of Finance as a compliance and audit guide. There is a tremendous need for written guidance, as the City business tax rules are ambiguous, confusing and irrational in many respects.

Despite our substantial efforts, the City of Los Angeles has not yet been able to gain the necessary consensus to authorize the publication of the guidelines. In the meantime, the WGA has asked our law firm to prepare this Information Outline ("Outline"), with the goal of educating the WGA's members as to the general mechanics and operation of the City business tax.

Please understand that this Outline is to be used for general discussion purposes only, and does not constitute a legal opinion. This Outline should not be used as or relied upon as legal advice. We represent the WGA with respect to this matter and not any of the individual WGA members. The circulation of this Outline does not create an attorney-client relationship between the recipient and us. This Outline does not contain a definitive or comprehensive description of the City business tax. This Outline is based on present law, which is subject to change and which is unclear in numerous respects. Please be advised that City employees have taken inconsistent positions concerning some of the issues discussed below, and in some instances, particularly where the Code is outdated or ambiguous, they have disagreed with the views expressed in this Outline. Many of the issues discussed in the Outline are highly factual in nature and cannot be resolved without a specific analysis of the unique circumstances of each case. Therefore, the WGA members should consult with their individual tax advisors in order to understand the applicability of the City business tax to their particular situation. Regrettably, the authors of this Outline will be unable to respond to questions from individual writers who are not clients of our law firm.

INTRODUCTION

The City of Los Angeles Office of Finance (the "Office of Finance") has been sending demand notices to California taxpayers whose California tax returns (i) bear a Los Angeles address and (ii) indicate that such taxpayer is engaged in a business. As part of its increased enforcement, the Office of Finance has engaged non-City personnel (commonly called "bounty hunters") to chase down those who received demand notices but have not registered for the tax.

Unfortunately, the Office of Finance's intense enforcement efforts mask a lukewarm attitude to clarity and consistency. As stated above, the WGA has gone to great effort and cost to discuss with the City the drafting and publication of guidelines tailored to help WGA members negotiate the Byzantine tax system, and in fact the City did produce a draft, but at least for the moment, the City opted for the status quo instead of publishing the guidelines.

The WGA has objected to certain of the written materials and oral information provided by the Office of Finance based on the position that it is not supported by the City of Los Angeles Municipal Code ("LAMC" or "Code"), and in some instances, may be inconsistent with the Code and/or violate state law. You may obtain general information from the website of the Office of Finance, at http://www.ci.la.ca.us/finance. You may also peruse relevant portions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code at http://www.codesite.com/LAMC/lamc@PDF/C02a0100.PDF.

This Outline provides a general discussion of several of the threshold issues which need to be considered in order to understand the applicability of the City of Los Angeles business tax to your situation. As stated above, there are other issues to consider as well and this Outline does not purport to address all issues. Also please understand that certain other cities in Los Angeles County and elsewhere impose a business tax (e.g., Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, etc.), and you may be subject to those tax regimes as well.

ARE YOU SUBJECT TO THE TAX?

You are not subject to the City of Los Angeles business tax just because you receive a demand notice, visit or phone call from a City employee or bounty hunter. You are only subject to the tax if you are engaged in business activities within the geographic limits of Los Angeles during the year in which the taxpayer is filing. If you are simply an employee of a business, you are not yourself engaged in its business. "Employment" is discussed more fully below.

"Engaged in Business" is a phrase defined in LAMC Section 21.00(i) as "the conducting, operating, managing or carrying on of a business, whether done as owner, or by means of an officer, agent, manager, employee, servant, or lessee of any of them." Not surprisingly, the Office of Finance interprets this as widely as possible to haul as many taxpayers into its net as possible. For example, the Office of Finance is likely to take the position that any writing activities (even if on "spec"), research, or development or pitch meetings which take place in the City of Los Angeles may be sufficient to constitute being engaged in business during that fiscal year, whether or not such activities generate income or gross receipts during such year.

A business is conducted within the geographic limits of the City of Los Angeles if it is conducted in an area that is left white in the Thomas Guide (City employees and bounty hunters will cite the Thomas Guide when you discuss this issue with them). For example, activities performed at most of the major studios and networks (i.e., Sony/Columbia, Warners, Universal, Disney, ABC, NBC), or at offices or residences in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Burbank, etc., do not take place in the City of Los Angeles and do not, by themselves, result in the writer being "engaged in business" in the City.

The Office of Finance has confirmed that a writer who lives in L.A. but performs all of his or her writing and related work (i.e., research, creative meetings, etc.) outside the City is not engaged in business in the City and does not owe the business tax. The Office of Finance also has confirmed that a writer is not engaged in business in the City if he or she merely receives a paycheck or residuals at a residence in L.A. but performs all services outside the City.

WHAT EXEMPTIONS AND EXCLUSIONS ARE AVAILABLE?

Certain exemptions or exclusions may apply to reduce or eliminate your City business tax liability. An exclusion means the City tax simply doesn't apply and you need not file. Exemptions derive from statutory provisions and generally require you to file a return to claim the exemption even if you do not owe tax. When evaluating many City tax matters, it is helpful to understand a few terms:

  1. Reporting Year means the current year. The tax return for the Reporting Year is due no later than February 28th of that year.
  2. Measurement Year means the immediately preceding year.
  3. Income Year means the year in which services were initially rendered.

As an example, for a calendar year taxpayer the current Reporting Year is calendar year 2003 and the Measurement Year is calendar year 2002. The tax returns for Reporting Year 2003 were due no later than February 28, 2003 (subject to extensions granted by the Office of Finance; see "Amnesty" section below).

Exclusions. You are excluded from the City business tax, if, during the entire Reporting Year, you are not engaged in a business within the geographic limits of Los Angeles. The determination of your status is made by reference to the Reporting Year. Thus, for example, if your only activity during Reporting Year 2003 is providing writing services as an employee, you should not be treated as engaged in business in 2003 and you should not have to file a return for Measurement Year 2002 (even if you were engaged in business in 2002!).

The City often sends notices to writers who have long retired or otherwise ceased writing, but who still receive residuals and still live in L.A. Beneficiaries of deceased writers often receive tax notices from the City even though beneficiaries have never been engaged in business. The conjunction of an L.A. address, and tax reporting of residuals often triggers a demand notice from the City. As stated above, you will only be subject to the City business tax if you are engaged in business in the City during the relevant Reporting Year. (Keep in mind that in an audit, the City would interpret "engaged in business" broadly, to include creative meetings, pitches, etc.).

Although you need not file when excluded from the reach of the City business tax, you may get annoying notices, calls and even visits from the City and its bounty hunters. In that case, you may choose to send them a letter explaining that you are excluded from the application of the tax and the reason why. If you don't, they may institute formal proceedings where you will have to assert your right to an exclusion.

Even if you are otherwise subject to the tax, all of your employment income is always excluded and need not be reported. For example, if you are engaged in business during Reporting Year 2003 year and received residuals in Measurement Year 2002 for writing services performed as an employee in Income Year 1999, the residual income is not subject to the tax. Having said that, determining whether you are an employee or not can prove difficult. This issue arises because residuals are often reported to the IRS and to you on Form 1099 (used for independent contractors and miscellaneous income) instead of Form W-2 (used for employees). The Office of Finance accepts a W-2 as presumptive proof of an employment relationship and also presumes that all income reported on Form 1099 is business income.

The method of tax reporting (W-2 vs. 1099) is not necessarily dispositive of the nature of the relationship as one of employment or independent contractor. California law prohibits Los Angeles from imposing its business taxes on employment income, as determined under the common law standards used by the IRS or FTB. The City's version of the common law standards is in the LAMC, section 21.00 (j) and (k). Taxpayers have the right to recharacterize Form 1099 income as employment income if the common law employment factors are satisfied. The City is likely to require you to submit copies of relevant tax returns filed for federal and state purposes, with any inconsistent treatment on the City level being highly scrutinized. This means that it may be difficult to sustain a claim for City tax purposes that a certain type of income is from employment, when the taxpayer filed federal or state tax returns reporting the same as independent contractor income.

The City has also taken the position that a loanout corporation can never argue that it received employment income. Neither California law nor the LAMC supports such a restriction. However, you should carefully consider whether it is advisable to attempt to recharacterize loanout income as employment income for City tax purposes, as it may undermine the viability of your loanout for federal and state tax purposes. The City tax savings may be insignificant in comparison to the possible loss of loanout tax benefits. Again, it is critically important that you consult your personal tax advisor before filing with the City, because the positions you take may negatively impact your state and Federal positions.

Exemptions. Writers may qualify for a "new business exemption" provided for in LAMC Section 21.30. A new business is exempt from paying the first year business tax provided the business obtains the Business Tax Registration from the City by the end of the second calendar month of the business start date. The business may qualify for an exemption for the second year of business provided that the first year gross receipts are $500,000 or less and the Business Tax Registration renewal is filed on or before the February 28th deadline. The new business exemption does not apply to the "Motion picture, television and radio producers" classification (discussed below).

A business which receives $5,000 or less during the Measurement Year is exempt from the City Business Tax. (LAMC Section 21.29.) In order to qualify the taxpayer must register with the City Business Tax Office.

WHICH CLASSIFICATION APPLIES?

The City divides L.A. businesses into numerous classifications. Each classification covers a different type of business and imposes different tax rates. You might guess that the business of writing for all forms of media would fall into a single classification, but you would be wrong. City employees and bounty hunters often place similarly -situated taxpayers performing the same services in different classifications. Since the tax is levied under a self-reporting system, you are responsible for correctly classifying yourself, even if the City is unable to do so. Please understand that no assurance can be given by this Outline that any particular classification applies to your situation, since the individual facts of your case and the opinions given by City employees may vary. Further, you should disregard any attempt by bounty hunters to advise you on classification matters, because they have no authority to do so and are not familiar with substantive tax issues.

Historically, the City has varied its approach to classifying writers. In our most recent discussions the City indicated that two classifications may be the most appropriate for a typical writer. Unfortunately, because our discussions with the City were informal and never finalized, there is no guarantee that the Office of Finance will not resort to the prior classifications in lieu of the two set out below as a current position. (For a summary of the classifications, please see Appendix A).

Historical Classifications. The Office of Finance's past practice has been haphazard and inconsistent. In the confusion, and driven by a thirst for revenue, most City employees simply dropped taxpayers into the highest rate classification, Professions and Occupations, Section 21.190. City personnel routinely asserted that various classifications applied to similarly situated writers. During our informal discussions with the City, the City asserted the following classifications patterns: (i) loanouts of motion picture writers should be classified as Miscellaneous Services-Temporary Help Agency (LAMC Section 21.189), (ii) individual motion picture writers (non employees and not incorporated) should be classified under Professions and Occupations (LAMC Section 21.190), and (iii) both individuals and loanouts engaged in writing for television should be classified as Radio and Television Broadcasters (LAMC Section 21.189.2). The WGA agreed with (iii), but believed that motion picture writers were improperly classified.

Most Recent Position. After reviewing the three classifications, the WGA argued that LAMC Section 21.109 ("Motion Picture, Television and Radio Producers") was most appropriate for loanouts and individuals writing in the motion picture industry (because the writers were typically involved with the "development of a story" within the meaning of that section). The City agreed with the WGA's position and included a statement in the draft guidelines which listed the following classifications for writers: (i) motion picture writers -- LAMC Section 21.109 ("Motion Picture, Television and Radio Producers") and (ii) television writers -- LAMC Section 21.189.2 ("Radio and Television Broadcaster"). These two classifications offer the lowest rates of those discussed in this Outline. They also reference the industries in which the WGA members work, so they seem the most appropriate on their face.

Choosing a classification. Unfortunately, the guidelines were never published or finalized and therefore the "Most Recent Position" does not represent the City's official position (which, apparently, does not exist). You may choose to file under LAMC Section 21.109 ("Motion Picture, Television and Radio Producers") or LAMC Section 21.189.2 ("Radio and Television Broadcaster"), but no assurances can be given that the City will respect such classifications. The recommended approach is to consider the various classifications and select the one which you and your personal tax advisor feel best corresponds to your business activities.

Multiple Classifications. If you and your tax advisor believe some of your activities fit within one classification and other activities during the same year fit in another classification, then you must file under both and allocate your earnings accordingly. (Remember that earnings derived from activities performed outside of L.A. are not subject to the tax.) You may have read about a change in the Code to permit taxpayers to file in a single classification if at least 80% of their receipts are from work in one of two or more categories. As of June 2003, the City Council has not yet taken final action on this amendment, and it's unclear whether it will apply retroactively.

Switching Classifications. As discussed more fully below, when you pay the City business tax in 2003 (the Reporting Year), you calculate it by reference to 2002 (the Measurement Year) revenues. Your 2002 revenues need to be divided into appropriate classifications. In the odd case where you have ceased all activity in a classification for the year 2003, an argument can be made that none of the revenues earned in that classification in 2002 should be reported, and should not be subject to the tax. However, the Office of Finance presumes that anyone who reports that he or she has terminated and then resumed business activity in the same exact classification within one year of ceasing the activity will be deemed to have remained continuously in business with respect to such classification.

HOW AND WHEN DO I REPORT THE TAX?

You can file electronically through the Office of Finance website or via forms provided by the Office of Finance (http://www.ci.la.ca.us/finance/AB63Application.pdf). The tax is reported on a calendar year basis, or at the taxpayer's election on a more frequent basis (e.g. quarterly). Tax returns are due no later than February 28th of the Reporting Year.

When you file taxes in 2003 for example, you must apply the tax rate to your tax base, which is calculated with reference to 2002 (hence, the term "Measurement Year"). For taxpayers reporting under Section 21.189.2 ("Radio and TV Broadcaster"), this means the 2003 tax is assessed on their previous years gross receipts (which means that no deductions for expenses or commissions are allowed). For taxpayers reporting under Section 21.109 ("Motion Picture Television and Radio Producers"), this means the 2003 tax is assessed on the previous calendar year's (x) gross cost of production, (y) gross receipts from lending of services; and (z) gross receipts from renting facilities. In most cases the writer will have no gross receipts attributable to (x) or (z). It is not entirely clear how these rules work for fiscal year taxpayers. If you file under Section 21.109, you will find the reporting form confusing since it asks for "gross receipts" instead of the tax base required by the LAMC. Although we have no authority on this matter, it appears that you would simply place the appropriate number under the inappropriate heading "Gross Receipts".

WHAT IF I WORKED IN AND OUTSIDE OF L.A.?

Only gross receipts earned within the geographic limits of Los Angeles are subject to city business taxes. All of the activities necessary to generate the gross receipts (e.g., research, writing, meeting with agents, directors and studio executives) are generally weighed equally and apportioned based on the location where such activities are conducted.

Apportionment. Perhaps the most confusing aspect of the tax is how you apportion income to L.A. activities and non-L.A. activities. Is it based on your activities in the Reporting Year? Measurement Year? Or the Income Year(s)? The City has been far from clear, but apparently the Measurement Year determines the apportionment, except that the Income Year may also play a role. A simple example illustrates the problem:

Skip Replevin's loanout reports the business tax in 2003 based on $100,000 in gross receipts in 2002. During 2002 he worked 60% of the time in West Hollywood and 40% in L.A. Part of his 2002 receipts was a total of $10,000 in residuals payments for work performed in 1995 while in San Francisco. When reporting its taxes does Skip's loanout report $40,000 ($100,000 x 40%) of Los Angeles gross receipts or does it report $36,000 [($100,000 - $10,000) x 40%]? Unfortunately, the Office of Finance and other City departments have not given us a definitive answer. Skip will have to self-report in consultation with his tax advisor.

Ruling 15. In 1971 the City Clerk of L.A. issued what is known as "Ruling 15". The Ruling created a rebuttable presumption that 20% of non-L.A. gross receipts should be treated as L.A. source gross receipts as if attributable to a taxpayer's office within L.A. where administrative functions are carried out. Under a mechanical application of Rule 15, a writer could perform 100% of his or her writing services outside of Los Angeles (e.g. writing in New York for a television series), but be forced to allocate 20% of the gross receipts from those services to Los Angeles. This Ruling was likely aimed at businesses that handle payroll, accounting, customer service and typical back-office business activities out of an L.A. office. The taxpayer has an absolute right to rebut the 20% presumption. Writers whose administrative functions (e.g. billing, collecting, accounting and management) are performed by outside professionals (agents, business managers, etc.) may be able to rebut the 20% allocation. Even if a writer maintains an office in L.A. with a receptionist to answer the phone, the writer can assert a lesser percentage applies to this cost if outside professionals handle other important administrative functions. In addition, Ruling 15 was issued only for taxpayers filing in LAMC Section 21.190 (Professions and Occupations), but the Office of Finance attempts to apply it to all other classifications. There appears to be no basis for such an extension.

MISCELLANEOUS ADMINISTRATIVE ISSUES.

Privacy and confidentiality. The Office of Finance's reporting forms sometimes include a way for you to indicate that your filing address is your home, but the older forms do not. In this case, in order for the City to keep your address confidential, you must designate your filing address as your home by writing the word "RESIDENCE" next to your address. In addition, you are not required to divulge the names of your projects or titles or content of scripts. In consultation with your tax advisor, you may choose to do so in an audit or in an administrative review to establish your entitlement to an exemption or to otherwise make your case on a disputed issue.

Refunds and Audits. You only have one year to file for a refund, while the City may audit you and assess for the past three years. It appears, then, that the deadline in the Code for assessing past due taxes has run for Reporting Year 2000 (which uses 1999 as the Measurement Year) and prior years. The Office of Finance has confirmed in writing that Reporting Year 2000 has "gone out of statute." If you are faced with City enforcement efforts attempting to reach 1999 income, contact the WGA's Public Affairs Department to obtain a copy of the letter.

Amnesty. There is currently an amnesty program available for taxpayers who file past-due tax returns on or before June 30, 2003 (provided that the tax liability is less than $500), which will result in the waiver of interest and penalties. If the annual tax liability exceeds $500, interest will not be waived; however, taxpayers may request a waiver of penalties in writing. After June 30, 2003, interest and penalties will likely accrue on all outstanding liabilities. The Office of Finance informed the WGA, however, that it has informally refrained from assessments against writers while trying to negotiate written guidelines for writers. As of this date, it is unclear whether and to what extent the Office of Finance will continue to refrain from assessing past-due taxes.

The interest rate for late taxes is re-calculated annually to reflect the average Federal short-term rate plus 3 percentage points. For 2003, interest accrues at a rate of 0.5% per month; the 2002 rate was 0.6% per month and in prior years the rate was 0.125% per month. The penalty is graduated, beginning in the first month at 5% and increasing to 40% after the fourth month of delinquency.

Settlement Bureau. The City Attorney's Office staffs a Settlement Bureau authorized to resolve disputes concerning the business tax outside of any process available within the Office of Finance. This includes cases where the Office of Finance has denied claims for refunds. The Bureau has statutory authority to accept a taxpayer's offer of compromise, and must keep such offers confidential if they are rejected. Code section 21.31 describes the procedures and your right to use the Bureau's services.


Appendix A
Classification Table

Section Title Definition Tax Rate
21.109 MOTION PICTURE, TELEVISION AND RADIO PRODUCERS. A person who engages in the business of who engages in the business of producing motion pictures, television programs, radio programs or advertising material for such media, including pictures or programs in which animation is used. Said businesses include, but are not limited to, the development of a story, whether based on fact or fiction, the photographing of the story or program, whether by means of photographic film, magnetic tape, or other device, the recording of the program, and the cutting, scoring, editing, and final preparation of the picture, program or commercial for release or viewing." (Emphasis added.) Approximately 0.3% and capped at $12,711 for earnings of $4.2 Million or more
21.189.1 MISCELLANEOUS SERVICES Miscellaneous categories, e.g. "Temporary-Help Agency"... any person engaged in the business of supplying his employees to others on a temporary basis. Approximately 0.41% with no cap
21.189.2 RADIO AND TELEVISION BROADCASTER In the business of producing and broadcasting... local or network television programs or advertising materials, including the furnishing of services, program elements or facilities in connection with production, production and broadcasting or broadcasting. (Emphasis added.) Approximately 0.148% with no cap
21.189.4 MULTIMEDIA BUSINESS Produces films, disks, tapes, software or other recording devices... Develops online and internet services, including design of WEB sites, for client. Approximately 0.118% with no cap
21.190 PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS For each person engaged in any trade, calling, occupation, vocation, profession or other means of livelihood, as an independent contractor and not as an employee of another, and not specifically taxed by other provisions of this article. Approximately 0.59% with no cap