Julie Rose Smith
The 31st January is looming – meaning it will soon be ‘a wrap’ on your tax return! (Sigh of relief?) Or…maybe you’re a tax ninja and the curtain came down on it months ago – in which case, I applaud you. Either way, battling through your receipts and knowing what is and isn’t allowable for tax purposes can be just as daunting for some as taking your first steps on a TV set. Of course, we want this experience to be exciting right? – Okay, so doing your tax return is never going to be that exciting (I admit) but being confident about what you can and can’t claim can certainly take away some of the stress and help you to just get it done.
As an actor, I feel your pain, but as a bookkeeper and having worked for an accountancy firm for many years I wanted to share some tips.
There are so many rules surrounding tax but as a general rule of thumb if you can argue that a purchase is ‘wholly and exclusively’ used for business then chances are it’s a tax deductible expense. However, if you’re in any doubt, then chances are it’s not.
Some typical acting related expenses which often satisfy the above include professional memberships – like being a member of Spotlight or Equity perhaps. Maybe you subscribe to one of the many casting websites out there, such as StarNow or Mandy. Do you pay for IMDB or Act on this TV? These can all be included.
Marketing for an actor, can seem never ending, but undeniably this is a vital part of our job so don’t forget your newest headshots are of course tax deductible. Also showreel updates, voicereels, business cards, website costs and so on.
Make sure you record any travel costs to and from auditions – although, I know this may feel like a thing of the past what with a huge chunk of castings continuing online. But maybe you’ve recently upgraded your self-taping kit. Another beneficial business cost for your tax return. And then when you ‘book that job’ that you spent hours taping for, include your agents commission in your workings – that’s if you happen to work with one.
As actors, we can never stop learning or developing our skills so next time you’re considering taking an acting class or booking on to a casting director workshop or screen combat course, remember the taxable benefits of doing this. We are a business after all, and investing in ourselves is all we can do so don’t feel guilty about clicking ‘buy’ if you have the funds to do so.
With this in mind, exhibitions and events (if relevant) are also tax deductible so that’s even more reason to grab yourself a ticket for Actors Pro Expo and sign up for some incredible seminars. It’s a win win! Or better still, bag yourself a £95 full day pass which gives you access to ALL seminars on the day and recordings of every seminar happening!! Bargain!
My biggest tip though when it comes to your tax return is not to leave it until the last minute…this only makes it seem like a more heftier task than it is! Plus you’re more likely to forget about some important business related expenses you’ve made along the way. Another big tip to help keep you on top of everything and give you the power of really understanding your finances is to track all your income and expenses in one of the many bookkeeping apps available. My personal favourite is QuickBooks. This honestly is a game changer! Remember though, as dull as it sounds, you MUST still keep all your receipts for up to 6 years.
Remember though, tax is never a one size fits all – so if you are ever in any doubt then it’s always best to speak to an accountant and get proper advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Afterall, accountants fees are also tax deductible!