I am a businessman. Did you know that? Indeed, I am the vaunted small businessman of lore.
Being a freelance writer in LA, I discovered last year, is considered running a small business, at least inasmuch as it makes you eligible for the Los Angeles small business tax. At some point I received a strange letter saying that I was delinquent in paying my small business tax for 2003 or some such ridiculous year. Reading it over, I couldn't think of how it could possibly apply to me. It had to be a mistake.
The paper got lost in the ever-building pile on my desk, and I almost forgot about it. Finally, I found it again and called the number to clarify--and it was true. Even as an occasional one-man freelancer working out of my home, I was supposed to be paying this tax.
Taking a long lunch one day, I went down to the Office of Finance for West LA. After many, many questions, I learned that LA tends to be very far behind as far as looking up all the people who may owe business taxes for this sort of thing, but eventually they will find you, and they had finally found me for making some money a few years back.
Just now, I had to renew my small business tax for this year. I had to pay last year when I went in, since I hadn't filed for years and I had some late charges built up. Since I am filing on time this year, I see that there are exceptions for Creative Activities, particularly if you make as little freelancing as I do--in the case of last year, nothing. So that is nice.
As for the late fees, when I was at the Office of Financing getting this explanation several months back, the girl there said I could write a letter appealing the penalty, since I didn't know about the business tax or anything. She said that if the request was granted, I would hear back in a year or so. There's a backlog, you see. If it were denied, I would never hear of it again.
Being a small businessman is kind of a pain in the ass.