Owning a business is a cherished part of the American dream. However, it does have its price: Long hours, economic insecurity and competition from larger or more established concerns are factors often cited as negatives. In a make-or-break city like Los Angeles, you not only have to contend with these elements, you may also be subject to business tax. Luckily, the city has reduced the process of business tax renewal to a series of simple steps.
Gather any relevant data, that is, your business tax renewal account number (which appears on your mailed renewal form), the street number of your business address and your zip code. If you are a creative artist, calculate separately the gross receipts from your creative work and those from non-creative activities. The first $300,000 from your creative activities is not taxable. The Los Angeles Office of Finance includes actors, writers, fine artists, costume, production and set designers, musicians and conductors, cinematographers, film editors and others as creative artists. If you are not sure whether you are considered a creative artist, consult the Los Angeles Municipal Code §21.29(b) for more complete information. A tax attorney or accountant familiar with the code would also be able to help you.
Look up your business or professional activity code at the Office of Finance NAICS Codes page. You can find the page by typing "NAICS" into the search box at the upper right of the Office of Finance homepage.
Go to the Los Angeles Office of Finance Online Business Tax Renewals page and click the large box that reads "Click Here to go to eFiling."
Type in the requested data and click "Proceed to E-Filing." A confirmation page will appear.
Check the data on the confirmation page to be sure your data was entered correctly. If it all is correct, click "Continue with Filing" to proceed to the Summary page. If anything is incorrect, select "Exit E-Filing" and phone the Office of Finance at the number displayed on the page.
Read the instructions on the Summary Page, and click "Next" when you have understood them.
Type in the gross receipts figure from the prior year, then select "Submit."
Check the resulting page to see if your business qualifies for the small business or creative artist exemption. If you qualify as a small business, type your total gross receipts, taxable and non-taxable, in the appropriate box, then click "Submit." If you qualify as a creative artist, you will need to enter gross income figures for both your creative and non-creative activities. Remember, you do not have to pay tax on the first $300,000 earned from creative work. Your non-creative receipts may be taxable.
Type your NAICS code into the appropriate boxes of the Report Business Activities page and select "Submit." If the NAICS codes do not correspond to your business, enter nothing and click "Submit."
Check all the data on the page for accuracy. If everything is OK, select "Generate My Tax Renewal." If you find errors, select "Return to Start" and re-enter any necessary information.
Print the renewal form that has been generated, then click "Accept Return and Proceed to Payment."
Make any required payment according to the options and instructions provided on the payment page.
If you own a small business or have been in business for two years or less, consult a tax attorney or accountant. You may be eligible for an exemption.
If you elect to "Single Category File," you will not be able to renew online. Instead, you will have to mail your renewal form with any required payment.
You will not be able to use your browser's back button, while you are e-filing. You will have a chance to make changes at the final confirmation screen before you submit your form.
- If you own a small business or have been in business for two years or less, consult a tax attorney or accountant. You may be eligible for an exemption.
- If you elect to "Single Category File," you will not be able to renew online. Instead, you will have to mail your renewal form with any required payment.
- You will not be able to use your browser's back button, while you are e-filing. You will have a chance to make changes at the final confirmation screen before you submit your form.
D. Laverne O'Neal, an Ivy League graduate, published her first article in 1997. A former theater, dance and music critic for such publications as the "Oakland Tribune" and Gannett Newspapers, she started her Web-writing career during the dot-com heyday. O'Neal also translates and edits French and Spanish. Her strongest interests are the performing arts, design, food, health, personal finance and personal growth.