Can actors take temporary work and still claim expenses?

Can actors take temporary work and still claim expenses? bchellingworth September 3, 2020

Well, it looks like this crazy year is not letting up. Everyone is having a rough go of it, of course, but I have to say the future feels pretty bleak for us actors. Some of the on-camera gigs are starting to trickle in with sets opening up and filming taking place under extreme caution, but it feels like theatre isn’t going to be the same for a while. So let’s talk part-time work, and how to make it as lucrative as possible!

There are ways in which you can work smarter. Use your skills as an actor to get a job, and when you do – make sure you are tracking your expenses. Many actors think about expenses related to acting work, but few apply the same logic to their “survival jobs”. Guess what? Actors can absolutely claim expenses for other part-time work.

You might have read our other blogs about claiming clothing expenses as an actor, or how to file taxes on side gigs. Remember to keep on top of your admin! Track all of your expenses, as they still apply to the work you take on – especially on work that requires you to be self-employed, but also on any PAYE work.

Taking on Part-Time Work

Be flexible
Work can be here one day and gone the next – as we have all found out over the last few months. The same goes for employers, who can have fluctuations in business volume week over week. It may be that part-time work is needed one week, then gone the next. This is OK!

Part of the hustle right now is being able to be flexible with part-time employers. If they know that they can count on you to show up when needed, then they are much more likely to call you in. And guess what? You can make significant earnings while working part-time! Using this opportunity to save for the future is going to give you a lot more flexibility when things start back up again.

Be honest
First of all, don’t hide the fact that you are an actor from employers, as it is often considered a benefit. Many of the “non-theatre” employers I have been lucky enough to work with throughout my career have been thrilled to hire actors. We are generally punctual, come with excellent people skills, and bring a fun energy to the workplace.

Employers also should understand that the job that they are hiring you for isn’t your main career goal. I’m not saying you should lead the interview with “Hi, I don’t want this job really because I am an actor…”, but you should be able to work in that you are looking for part-time work in an area that is interesting to you while waiting for auditions to start back up.

Remember that this isn’t forever
It isn’t all doom and gloom – the job you are doing right now while acting work isn’t around is keeping you above water. When the time comes to move on, you can absolutely quit. Keep in mind, however, that you may need a reference for other non-acting work down the line, so be sure to give proper notice and part ways with your employer on good terms!

You are still an actor
Don’t forget to keep your other skills sharpened. Scene work, monologues, networking, and working on your craft cost only time – don’t let them slip by the wayside! Work on your own material, write, and connect with other actors. Keep each other honest and accountable. The people who are continuing to work on their own skills are the people who will be the least rusty when acting work starts up again in earnest.

Keep track of your expenses
If you need to travel to work for a part-time gig, you can claim it as an expense. If there is some work that you need to purchase any clothing for – great! It can count towards your expenses. Of course, knowing where the line is can be tricky, which is where The Showbiz Accountant comes in. I have my very own dedicated accountant, Keith, who can tell me when I am completely in the right to claim (such as my train ticket to a one-off gig) or completely in the wrong (a new 50-inch TV for “research”).

Whatever it is you end up doing, make sure you are staying calm and practical. Keep working on your craft in between work, and remember that you are an actor – even if you are taking work that feels miles away from the stage. Organisation is key – make a note of any expenses, and if you are having any issues with what to claim and what not to claim, think about investing in an accountant that specialises in acting work. With the complexities of the tax system, it can save you money in the long run. Contact The Showbiz Accountant for a free evaluation.

What if my club pays some of my expenses, can I still claim?

There could be an exception to this if your club has paid mileage but, essentially yes, you can still claim. Rather than spending valuable time worrying about what you can or can’t claim, we’ll help you to take account of all expenses that can be claimed, from membership and subscription fees through to mileage costs when using your own vehicle.

Can I claim a tax refund for training expenses?

This will be dependent on a number of factors such as mileage from your home ground or whether you use public transport, it could also include the time spent at training. We can help by allocating your own dedicated accountant who will work tirelessly, using expertise to guide you through any complexities that may arise.

What if I only play part-time?

We understand that you may have a range of income streams from full or part-time work, coaching others, or through sponsorship and advertising. We’ll ensure that you only pay the tax you owe, regardless of where you’re competing or how often. We can also minimise the tax you pay even though the UK has a Double Taxation Agreement with many countries.

What is a tax return and how much tax do I owe?

Self-Assessment is a system HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) uses to collect Income Tax. Our experts will determine the correct tax to be deducted at source to maximise your earnings, whether you’re employed or self-employed. Ensuring that you pay any tax twice yearly via self-assessment we will always advise you of all tax-deductible expenses.

What if I haven’t claimed previous years?

Don’t worry, if you are owed any money from the taxman, we’ll ensure you get it back! We’ll help you keep as much money as possible from all your hard work.

How do I know what I can’t claim for?

There are some things to be mindful of such as opting for ‘simplified expenses’. Under the new cash basis, this means you won’t be able to set off any losses against other income. However, we can ensure this doesn’t limit your expense claims and even if you don’t think you have any ‘fixed assets’ we’ll ensure that any deductions from your taxable income will be made.

What information will I need to make a claim?

We can help you make a claim using information about your income and expenses. Details of any benefits such as health insurance will also be needed to enable us to take into account all allowable expenses.

How far back can I claim?

At present, claims can only go back 4 years so don’t waste any more time in finding out what you could be owed. We are incredibly flexible and can quickly get your tax requirements underway. Let us help you to keep the maximum amount possible from your earnings.

When can I expect a refund?

HMRC aim to process refunds within 12 weeks, we will monitor this for you and liaise with HMRC on your behalf leaving you valuable time to do what you do best – WIN!

Next steps

To find out more about how The Showbiz Accountant could help your business, call Keith Rennie (Managing Partner) in the UK on: 0203 384 2224. Feel free to schedule a call or email a question.