It took me a year or so to understand that, along with Federal Taxes and State Taxes, as a screenwriter… I also have to file City Business Taxes!
It’s true. If you file a Schedule C (which you probably do if you receive a 1099 form)* and you live in Los Angeles (or some of the zip codes around the city), you need to register as a business and then pay taxes.
The good news is that you can apply for a Creative Artist’s exemption, which waives your tax obligation if you make less then $300,000. The bad news is that even if you don’t make close to that, if you don’t register and fill out the form, they can still hit you with a penalty. I paid a small penalty for the year I didn’t know what I was doing.
The other thing to know is that the filing deadline for LA City taxes is NOT April 15. It is February 28!
Today, I filled out the what they call the “business tax renewal form” –which is confusing–am I renewing my business? paying my taxes? both? It’s unclear, but I know it’s the thing I have to do each year. This year’s renewal was ridiculously easy, which is the upside of a year with non-existent revenue I guess.
But I am proud of myself because I remembered to do it, and now it is done!
If you are a freelancer and need to register your business or “renew your business tax ” you can do it at finance.lacity.org. I did the registering in person, and the lady who helped me said that my “business activity” was “Radio/TV/Theatre” and the my “fund class” was “L045.” Yours might be be too.**
*Disclaimer: I am not a tax professional and am just repeating stuff that people have said that sounds about right.
**Again, not a tax professional. You might want to talk to your own helpful lady at one of these locations or phone numbers.