Can actors deduct travel expenses?

Can actors deduct travel expenses? bchellingworth July 29, 2019

We all know the familiar feeling of traveling to an audition. Making sure that you don’t accidentally mess up the lucky audition outfit on the commute. Going over the sides to make sure you know them as thoroughly as possible. Double-checking your emails to make sure you are heading to the right studio. But do you ever think of the costs associated with travel?

Actors can deduct certain travel expenses

If you work a 9-5 in an office, you probably can’t deduct travel – this type of travel falls into the realm of “ordinary commuting”. However, a lot of what actors do doesn’t fall into this category. For example, traveling to an audition. Auditioning is more of a business expense when you think about it – it’s a cost in both time and money that we need to spend in order to get work.

Even if you are being selective and only going on one audition per week, this can add up to some serious money. If you live in Zone 1 or 2 in London and have to travel into the city for an audition, a single ticket fare with an oyster card is £2.40. £4.80 per audition, with one audition each week, adds up to a deduction of almost £250 every year.

It’s not just auditions – but some expenses cannot be claimed

It isn’t just auditions. You can claim for a whole host of travel-related expenses. Often, rehearsals can be deducted as well. This isn’t always the case and only applies when rehearsals are not regular. For example, if you have a rehearsal every couple of weeks for an ongoing performance, this couldn’t be claimed. But the limited rehearsals before a show opens/filming begins totally count.

Similarly, if a show opens for a “run”, you can’t deduct travel expenses. This falls within the definition of “ordinary commuting”. Any time you are heading to a regular show, it’s pretty much the same as going to work, and you can’t deduct the cost of travel.

However, you can also deduct any travel for “research” purposes. This includes any of the trips you take when traveling to the theatre, visiting art galleries, and going to a museum.

Keep track of your travel expenses

Keep track of every travel expense that you think is deductible, with a little note about what each journey was for. I use Google Sheets to track my expenses and have a tab on my main expenses sheet that covers any travel expense that I have incurred.

If you don’t travel by public transport, it can be complicated to work out exactly how much you should deduct – but HMRC has guidelines which you should follow. You can deduct a fixed cost per mile of each trip, which depends on the mode of transportation: 45p for cars, 25p for motorbikes, and 20p for bicycles. Alternatively, you can keep track of your total fuel costs and deduct a certain percentage based on acting expenses. Make sure you remember to keep track of any parking or toll road fees as well!

Traveling outside the UK

Actors who travel outside the UK can also sometimes claim travel expenses for air or boat fares. However, this becomes quite complex and varies on a case by case basis. The best way to deal with this is by contacting your accountant.

Having an accountant has saved my skin several times. I didn’t even know about deducting travel before chatting with Keith, my dedicated accountant at The Showbiz Accountant. They know the industry and can answer any questions about what you can and can’t claim – and having someone there to point out possible expenses really starts to pay for itself in the long run. Book a completely free, 15-minute review to see if you can get help from a dedicated accountant.