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Hahn Signs 6 Measures to Lure Firms, Jobs to City

Government: The tax-reform ordinances are approved by the mayor at a Van Nuys ceremony. He says action sends positive message to businesses.

July 13, 2001|KARIMA A. HAYNES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Saying he wants to get the word out that Los Angeles is friendly to business, Mayor Jim Hahn on Thursday signed six tax-reform ordinances designed to entice more businesses and jobs to the city.

The measures were drafted by a committee appointed by city officials two years ago and approved last month by the Los Angeles City Council.

The mayor was joined by members of the Business Tax Advisory Committee--the group responsible for crafting the reforms--at a signing ceremony at Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley headquarters in Van Nuys.

"It's very important to send a strong message that Los Angeles means business," Hahn said. "With these reforms, we will have a system that will invite businesses into our city."

The six ordinances are among more than a dozen drafted by the advisory committee, a 19-member panel formed last year. Members said the reforms were aimed at simplifying the tax system and bringing the one-third of companies that don't pay the business tax into compliance.

Hahn acknowledged the work by his predecessor, Richard Riordan, while calling for more improvements.

"The mayor worked to get this started and he deserves a lot of credit," Hahn said. "But the job is not finished. We want to make sure that Los Angeles is friendly to business."

Hahn picked the San Fernando Valley for the signing ceremony to signify the area's importance to the city's economic health.

"We understand that the Valley has been a big part of the city's recovery over the last 10 years," Hahn said, adding that the coalition of Valley business associations that have united behind business tax reform should serve as a model for other business groups in the city.

The six ordinances:

* Establish a tax amnesty for business tax scofflaws to take place from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31. City finance officials estimate amnesty will generate $20 million in one-time revenue and $4 million in ongoing annual revenue.

* Create a business tax settlement bureau to expedite the resolution of tax claims. The office, to be based in the city attorney's office, would open Jan. 1.

* Streamline the administrative process for business tax assessments by conducting hearings before a single assessment review officer, rather than a three-member Board of Review panel

* Equalize interest rates for tax deficiencies and refunds

* Exempt inter-company financial transfers from business taxes

* Create a whistle-blower program that provides a reward for information leading to the recovery of unpaid business taxes

The committee, which includes members appointed by Riordan and each of the 15 council members, was formed as an offshoot of the mayor's business tax reform efforts.

The group includes lawyers, accountants, taxpayer advocates and other business representatives.

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