What can actors claim on their taxes?

What can actors claim on their taxes? bchellingworth October 26, 2020

As an actor, you can save a very considerable amount of money by writing off expenses related to your acting career. But when it comes to deducting business expenses, what exactly can you claim? We’ve done a quick FAQ on some common expenses for actors below that we hope will help guide you on the correct path. As always, be sure to document all expenses thoroughly and keep your receipts! This will make things easier come tax time.

Can actors claim clothing as an expense?

The rule of thumb with HMRC and the IRS is that a piece of clothing that is specifically for a performance (like a stage show, feature film, or TV show) is deductible, as long as it isn’t used for other stuff, like going to the pub. Importantly, this doesn’t cover clothing that you might use for a rehearsal.

Can actors claim business travel expenses?

Absolutely, as long as the expenses are business-related. For example, you can claim a percentage of your monthly Oyster / MetroCard, plane tickets, cab fares, and vehicle expenses when traveling to and from auditions, classes, rehearsals, performances, and more. If you own a car, we recommend keeping a log of all the miles you drive in addition to maintenance fees, tolls, and parking receipts.

Can actors claim classes and coaching sessions?

For most actors, classes, workshops, seminars, and individual coaching sessions are a large expense. Because these are important in helping you maintain your craft, they are absolutely deductible. As with all other expenses, be sure to keep a record of every session you attend (especially if you pay by cash or cheque and would not normally get a receipt).

Can actors claim dues?

Yes, if you belong to Actors’ Equity, SAG, AFTRA, or any other performance-related union, you can claim your dues as a deductible expense. You can also claim any dues paid as a company member of a theatre.

Can actors claim personal hygiene expenses (i.e., haircuts, makeup, nails, etc.)

This is a tricky one, yes, and no! You can claim any personal hygiene expenses when they are directly correlated to a specific job. For example, if you are cast in a role that requires you to get your hair coloured and/or cut, you can absolutely claim this as an expense. For everyday personal maintenance, you can not.

Can actors claim tickets for viewing films and plays?

This is also a tricky one. As long as you can prove that there was educational value to the expense, then you can claim tickets to live performances and movies as a deductible expense. We would recommend documenting in writing “what you learned” on the receipts of any tickets you’d like to claim, just in case.

Can actors claim headshot and resume expenses?

Headshots and resumes are vital business expenses for any actor, so they can absolutely be claimed as deductible expenses. Be sure to save receipts for photographer fees and all printing costs!

Can actors claim monthly rent or mortgage payments?

Generally, no this is not an expense you can claim. The exception would be if you use any space in your house as a home office or studio used exclusively for work related to your acting business. In this case, you can calculate the square footage and claim a partial expense.

Can actors claim commissions from agents and managers?

Yes, you can claim all fees you pay to an agent or talent manager. When working regularly, this can be a really major deduction, so be sure to keep track of when and how commissions are paid!

Can actors claim cell phone and internet bills?

Yes, but this will only be a partial deduction. You will need to keep track of your call log and internet usage specifically tied to your acting career and can then claim a percentage of the total bills.

Call The Showbiz Accountant for help with expenses

If you want to learn more about what expenses you can or cannot claim, contact The Showbiz Accountant on 0203 384 2224 or info@theshowbizaccountant.com to get a free initial review. You are in safe hands with The Showbiz Accountant, because we are specialists in accounting for actors. Make sure it’s Broadway that comes calling – not the tax man.