With your taxes being due on April 15th, it’s time for many of us actors to get cracking on what you can deduct, what you can’t, and little nuances you should know. As we all know all too well, being an actor, especially in Los Angeles, is an extremely costly affair that we hope one day will yield into profits multiple times over. But until then, our expenses we make for the sake of our career can, for the time being, be used for tax refunds which CAN be awesome news when done correctly. These are the things to keep in mind and if any of these are incorrect or more stuff can be added, please feel free to comment! So here goes:
– Acting/voice/dance classes or coach sessions (no gym membership but they are ONLY deductible if you book something and THEN they tell you you need to get fit, lose weight, etc. Special skills don’t count – you can deduct CLASSES that relate to your special skill (like a ballet class) but gym memberships do not count.
– Online profiles and personal acting website (that includes ActorsAccess, LACasting, and any other profiles you have to submit to projects)
– Mileage (only applies if you’re going directly from gig to gig, but does not apply to mileage from home to audition and vice versa. UNLESS YOU HAVE A HOME OFFICE. You can also deduct mileage from a day job to audition.)
– Union dues (includes AEA & SAG-AFTRA working dues)
– Casting workshops
– Makeup and Hair care (only when directly related to acting work)
– Commissions to agents and managers
– Tickets for research (plays, movies, concerts, dance, Netflix..only for yourself)
– Books related to acting
– Office supplies, stationary, and postage
– Rental of studio space and or equipment
– Costumes/props (if you can prove that it’s solely a costume and not something you can wear as regular clothes i.e. Suits don’t count)
– Clothes you buy solely for auditions and networking
– Advertising and publicity (headshots, business cards, post cards, etc.)
– Trade publications (Variety, Backstage)
– Meals & Entertainment for business (receipts should indicate who, what, when, where, and why…these do not include out of town meals)*For those living in LA,
– Insurance (Self-employed people, including actors, are also allowed to deduct 100% of their health insurance premiums from their income taxes)
– Marketing material (everything you spend money on to promote yourself as an actor is deductible including photos, videos, websites (including Internet connection costs), listings in professional registries, advertisements in trade publications, and business cards.)
– Legal and Professional Services (you can deduct fees that you pay to attorneys, accountants, consultants, and other professionals if the fees are paid for work related to your acting business)
— SPECIAL THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND —
1. SAVE ALL YOUR RECEIPTS AND KEEP GOOD TRACK OF YOUR ACTIVITIES.
2. As actors, we usually get two types of employee income: one reported to you on a W-2, and the other which is an independent contractor income (self-employment), which may be reported on a Form 1099. With that particular one, if you got paid less than $600 by an employer, they don’t have to send a 1099, but you still have to report the income. Your self-employment income and expenses should be reported on Schedule C (or C-EZ), and employee business expenses on Form 2106 (or 2106-EZ). Be wary of not reporting ALL your business expenses on Schedule C, even those employee expenses that aren’t attributable to 1099 work. It is improper and potentially very dangerous.
3. As soon as you get a 1099-MISC form, you are considered a business in the eyes of LA and thereby you are responsible for claiming yourself as a business to the nearest Office of Finance. Every year, at the end of the February is the due date to report whether you made less than $300k so that you can get the small business tax exemption and not pay a fine. So make sure to do this AS soon as you get a 1099 form.
4. The benefit of registering yourself as a business is that you can legally deduct ALL miles you take travelling from home to your audition and back because your home is now officially your business office. Yay!