LA passes up funding for affordable housing + LA mandates earthquake retrofitting

LA will require buildings to undergo earthquake retrofitting starting in 2016.

LA will require buildings to undergo earthquake retrofitting starting in 2016.

LA Passing Up Tens of Millions For Infrastructure and Affordable Housing: Los Angeles is missing out on important revenue by not charging developer impact fees. These fees can fund a variety of things, including LAPD, libraries, parks and affordable housing construction. (LA Curbed)

Los Angeles Will Start Requiring Earthquake Retrofits For Apartment Buildings in February: Los Angeles will require buildings to undergo earthquake retrofitting starting in 2016, but the mandate leaves concrete structures a 25 year window to complete the project. (LA Curbed)

VITA Centers offer free tax preparation in South LA

By Samantha Hermann

Two-hundred dollars. That is the base rate Liberty Tax’s Watts branch said it charges to prepare a simple tax return. According to 2000 census data the median household income in South Los Angeles is $25,303. This means that most South Los Angeles residents could have their taxes prepared for free.

IRS Spokeswoman Anabel Marquez said anyone who made less than $49,000 last year qualifies for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), a free tax preparation service offered by the IRS.

So why do people still pay to have their taxes prepared at Liberty, or H&R Block (whose base rate in Los Angeles is $99), or Jackson Hewitt (whose base rate in Los Angeles is $39)?

Kathy Jun, a volunteer tax preparer at the USC VITA center, has found that some people simply aren’t aware that VITA exists. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who qualify and just don’t know what their options are,” she said.

Some of the promotional offers from tax preparer chains may also be luring in South Los Angeles residents with lower incomes who likely qualify for VITA services.

Read more…

Photo courtesy of VITA Volunteers

Proposition 24 would change tax laws for businesses


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Supporters say it would end tax breaks for big corporations. Opponents say it would hurt small businesses struggling to survive.

Proposition 24 would repeal three laws passed in 2008 and 2009 that cut business taxes.

Scott MacDonald is a spokesman for Stop Prop 24. He says those changes were designed to help small businesses weather times like these.

MacDonald: “We all know that this recession has hurt a lot of people. The last thing we need to do is burden the state’s small businesses and multi-state companies and others by passing Prop 24.”

That is not how Gregg Solkovits sees it. He is with United Teachers Los Angeles, which supports Proposition 24. Solkovits said with California’s budget problems, the state can no longer afford to give tax breaks.

Solkovits: A vote to repeal those tax breaks is a piece to solving California’s perennial budget problems. We have a revenue problem because we continue to give the wealthy and large corporations tax breaks.”

A poll taken last week showed voters tied, with a third still undecided.