You’ve just taken a call from your agent: they booked an audition for you, but unfortunately the venue is across the country, and your train ticket is expensive. It’s an early start so you need to book a hotel room too. You warily add up your expenses………
This is an all too familiar situation. This blog post is your one-stop guide for all your allowable acting expenses.
The good news: you can claim for clothing expenses when your threads are used exclusively for your acting roles. So, the clothes that make you a part of the set, from TV to the stage, are covered, as well as the costs for the upkeep of your costumes.
If you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine, the same rule applies for costumes you make too. Handmade wigs and accessories also make the cut.
The not so good news: you can’t claim for clothing where there is a duality of use (e.g. clothing purchased for auditions and rehearsals which you will also wear outside of work).
Financially validate the hours you spend studying to nail your latest role. Because the cash you put towards theatre tickets, ballet, opera and any other stage performance is tax deductible (in addition to your travelling costs).
If your role is in TV or film, you can claim for cinema tickets, DVDs, film and TV subscriptions, so long as you can prove you used the media for research.
Computer or Laptop Costs
If you don’t have a laptop or computer, or the one you have is an ancient relic, feel justified in purchasing a new one. You must use this for business purposes, such as researching a role, browsing auditions or keeping on top of your finances.
Your new device might need software too, like Microsoft Office to write and format your CVs, and anti-virus software to protect your online activity. Need a printer or backup hardware? These add-ons are allowable expenses too.
As you know, self promotion plays an integral role in your acting career. Be content in the knowledge that you can reduce your tax liability on these essential marketing overheads:
- Subscriptions to casting websites
- Networking events entrance fees
- Makeup and haircuts
- A promotional website
- Creating a show reel
- Annual domain registrations
- Ongoing maintenance
- Monthly subscriptions
Common expenses are Equity membership, Casting Call Pro, Star Now, imdb, Musicians Union etc
Sometimes, the life of an actor takes you to far away exciting (or maybe not so exciting!) places.
All of the following are tax deductible travel expenses:
- Oyster card receipts
- Other weekly/monthly travel cards
- Taxi and Uber fares
- Train/bus/tube tickets
Long term placements are a slightly different story.
Get a role that stretches over a fair amount of time in one venue, and your commute becomes ‘ordinary’. Basically, you can’t claim on your travelling costs, because you are going to and from a ‘normal’ place of work.
Be careful when a role takes you overseas. No one will blame you for wanting to take your family or a friend, whether they are there for support or to explore new sights. But this could signify to HMRC that there’s a holiday element to your trip and the expense isn’t allowable for tax.
It’s best to discuss your trip in detail with us at Actros Tax to be fully informed about travelling abroad.
Car, Motorcycle, Bicycle Costs
You have two options for tax relief:
- Claim a fixed mileage rate
- Keep a record of all your fuel costs and calculate a percentage based on acting related mileage. Also, any parking fees or toll road fees spent on these trips should be claimed.
Need to buy a new vehicle to travel to work? You can claim a deduction for a percentage of the purchase price of the car, motorcycle or bicycle.
Because your acting related trips often have you away from home days at a time, relying on hotels and other lodgings for a comfortable night’s sleep becomes the norm. Your accommodation costs will most likely a tax deductible expense. But, like flying, if you choose to take someone with you, your stay could be regarded as leisure, rather than work. Think about this before you book a room.
Food & Drink Costs – Subsistence
The cost of food and drink isn’t normally an allowable expense as this is deemed everyday expenditure – everyone must eat. However, where you are travelling away for work then you should be able to claim reasonable expenses for food and drink.
Performers very often get paid per diems for food and drink and we often get asked the tax treatment of these. Per diems should be declared as income and the corresponding expenditure of food and drink as expenses. If you don’t spend all of your per diem, then the balance will be taxable as income.
If you are out meeting a potential client or your agent for food/drink, then this is classed as ‘entertaining’ and not allowable. Only the cost of your food and drink is an allowable expense. If you are paying for both, maybe you can ask for to separate bills to make it easier to claim your half?
Health & Gym Costs
Your agent might advise you to workout, purchase contact lenses, or alter a part of your body to fit a certain role. Accept this, and your gym membership and/or treatments can be classed as tax allowable… in most circumstances.
HMRC is a stickler for rules, so it is highly likely that they will challenge this. Chat to us at Actors Tax (and a responsible adult!) before rushing into any body modifying decisions.
Training & Classes
Nurturing your performance skills is a smart investment, maximising your potential to have a lucrative acting career. Consequently, enrolling in acting, singing or dancing classes is tax allowable.
What you can claim for attending drama school is a little more complex. It depends on the course length and structure. It’s best to work this out with your accountant.
Hiring an accountant to manage your finances, or using a solicitor for contract advice are both tax deductible expenses. An accountant that specialises in actors such as Actors Tax also be able to save you money.
Agent and Booking Fees
Your agent fees are an allowable expense. This will be the amount plus any VAT charged by your agent. It’s the same story for any pesky booking fees, such as the extra services charged on top of the basic fee if you visit the theatre.
Working From Home
Like anyone self employed, at-home-admin is a given. While unglamorous, using your home office to carry out certain tasks, like researching roles, corresponding with your agent, and memorising scripts is necessary.
There are two ways to claim expenses for working from home.
The first is to add up the following expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, utility bills, council tax water rates, buildings & contents insurance and repairs and essential maintenance of the property (not redecorating). You then need to perform a calculation based on the amount of rooms in your house and the amount of time you spend working from home. We can do this calculation for you.
The simpler method is to use HMRC’s standard rates, but these can be on the low side:
Less than 25 hours per month £0
25 – 50 hours per month £10
51 – 100 hours per month £18
101+ hours per month £26
Do you use your mobile or phone to call your agent, enquire about new roles, book auditions, and generally run your acting career? Then your line rental and call costs are absolutely deductible.
But, if you use your phone to make personal calls, then a percentage of those costs won’t be allowable.
Office or Studio Costs
Studio space can be your acting temple: a place to hone your performance skills in privacy and with all the equipment you need. Fortunately, you can reduce your tax bill on rental costs and associated utility bills.
Bank Interest and Finance Costs
Make your overdraft interest easy to handle by having two bank accounts. Charges on the account solely in relation to your acting career are allowable.
If you need a loan to purchase expensive items such as a laptop or car, then a percentage of the interest costs will be allowable. The same can be done if a career development loan is taken out to fund certain training costs.
Your main lesson from this guide:
The ability to claim tax deductible expenses (and therefore reduce your taxable profits) shouldn’t be an invitation to spend money on a laptop or a first class train ticket. If you wouldn’t incur the expense in the first place, then you’re not really saving money!
- The reimbursed costs of your expenses must be declared as income.
- Capture your receipts using your phone and store them on specialist software. At Actors Tax, we provide all our clients with such an App for free.
- If your expenses are not included in this guide you may still be able to claim.
So, regard each tax deductible expense carefully and become an actor who can confidently make smart financial decisions.
If you have any specific questions regarding personal expenses we haven’t discussed, please get in contact. We’re here to help.