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ON THE ISSUE

Should Writers, Artists Pay Business Tax?

June 03, 1997|ED BOND | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

When the Los Angeles City Council voted in November to legalize home-based businesses, another issue emerged.

Many writers and artists who work at home found that they would have to pay city taxes.

The city has offered a temporary amnesty for such businesses, but some of these home-based workers are seeking permanent exemptions. But others maintain that all home-based businesses have a responsibility to pay taxes.

Should there be exemptions from city taxes for writers and artists who work from home?

Shone Kirkpatrick, a West Toluca Lake screenwriter:

"I absolutely think there should be an exemption, not only for writers and artists and people like that. I think there should be a direct correlation between the taxes you pay and the services you receive . . . If a business has a direct im

pact on the community in terms of traffic, wear and tear on the infrastructure, then a tax would apply. But if your work doesn't have a negative impact, I think it should be exempted."

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Laura Chick:

"It's important to remember that no new taxation has been created by the passage of the Home Occupation Ordinance. The city has had its current business tax structure for over

60 years, and city business taxes have always been applied to all businesses, including writers and artists, whether they've been located in the home or in an office. If city decision-makers take any steps to provide tax exemptions for writers and artists, we need to be very clear on how these businesses are different from other businesses that are required to pay business taxes."

Wendy Brogin, co-chairwoman of the local issues committee for the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn. as well as an urban planner working out of her Sherman Oaks home:

"Our committee did take a position supporting the home-based business ordinance, which strictly had to do with zoning . . . The argument against the tax and exemptions to the tax should have been brought up years ago . . . The other aspect of it is intellectual property really is not limited to artisans and writers . . . As an urban planner, when I prepare a document in support of my client's applications, that's intellectual property, but I am making a profit on it. So it's no different than any other business. I don't believe it should have an exemption . . . I think it's a sense of equity. Anyone who is in business has to pay taxes for the city . . . I'm no different from a screenwriter, but I don't seek a special exemption."

Cheryl Rhoden, director of public affairs for the Writers Guild of America:

"Clearly, writers and creators who work in areas that are protected by the 1st Amendment should not be required to take a business license to practice those rights . . . The law as it stands undoubtedly violates the sanctity of the home and the creative rights for all artists . . . Writers and artists have protections that do not allow the government to invade the creative process, to invade the home and intrude on what the writer is writing."

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