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taxes

Tax Claim Tips For Artists

Filing taxes can be a boring activity, especially if you have to spend hours hunting for expense receipts and calculating what you owe. Knowing exactly what you are allowed to claim as deductions on your tax bill can be very helpful, speeding up the process significantly. 


This guide to performing artist tax deduction allowances is here to help you figure out what you can claim back on your income tax, so keep reading to find out how you can reduce your bill and get through the end of the financial year (EOFY).



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Artist tax deductions you can claim

As artists, you may be entitled to a variety of tax deductions. The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has a list of expenses, but it can be strict about the circumstances when you can claim deductions on your tax.


In general, you can claim work-related expenses if they relate directly to your profession. However, you cannot claim expenses if you were reimbursed by your employer. Furthermore, you may be required to provide evidence, so you must keep a careful log of your expenditures. 


Allowances are also considered part of your income but you may not always be able to claim it as a deduction. Examples of allowances you can’t claim include:


  • Compensation for aspects of your job that are unpleasant or dangerous like a height allowance
  • Compensation for industry peculiarities like irregular working hours allowance


There are some allowances which you may be able to claim. This can include:


  • Amounts for certain expenses like a meal allowance when you travel for work
  • Amounts for special skills like a first aid certificate


Here’s what you need to know about tax-deductible expenses. 

Car and travel expenses

You can claim a deduction on work-related travel expenses, but travel that could be considered personal cannot be claimed. For example, you can’t claim journeys between your workplace and your home, as this would be considered personal travel.


However, you can claim for journeys taken between two different workplaces. For example, if you travel from your rehearsal space to a costume fitting, this journey would be a tax-deductible expense. Or, if you travel to a second job, such as teaching kids at an acting class, this expense would also be deductible.


There are some circumstances when you can also claim the cost of a journey from your house to your place of work. It’s allowed if you are carrying bulky tools or equipment that you need for work, which can only be conveniently transported using a vehicle and cannot be securely stored at work.


Claiming car expenses can be quite complicated, so you need to track your journeys carefully. You can choose to use the logbook method or the cents per kilometre method; either way, make sure your trips are carefully documented.


You have to use the actual cost method to work out the amount you can claim if the vehicle you use:


  • Is a motorcycle
  • Is able to carry more than one tonne
  • Can transport more than 9 passengers


There are a handful of other travel expenses you can claim, such as an overnight trip made to perform your employment duties. As a performing artist, you might need to go out of town to film a scene, and this trip counts as a deductible expense. You can deduct:


  • Travel costs
  • Fares
  • Accommodation
  • Meals


Notably, the ATO does not allow you to deduct expenses incurred when you travel to an audition or interview.

Clothing expenses

Sometimes, you can claim for the expenses on clothing, but only when clothes are not considered conventional. You can only claim on compulsory uniforms that are unique to your workplace (i.e. featuring a logo) and consistently enforced. Or, you can claim for occupation-specific clothing, such as dance shoes.


Tax-deductible expenses include buying, hiring, repairing, and cleaning any work-related garments. This also includes protective gear like sunglasses when performing outdoors. 


You can’t claim for ‘conventional clothing’, even if the outfit is something your employer requires you to wear. Conventional clothing is any type of clothing that can be worn by people regardless of occupation. So for example, if you work as a stagehand and are required to wear all-black clothing (black shirt, black shoes, black pants) while working. Since these are conventional clothes they would not be claimable.

Grooming expenses

In many instances, the ATO does not allow workers to claim deductions on grooming expenses. Similarly, performing artists cannot deduct hairdressing, cosmetics, or skin care expenses.


That said, there are some allowed circumstances where you can claim deductions for hairdressing if it’s required for a role, including for a specific hairstyle or maintaining a specific hair length for continuity purposes in a role. You can also deduct stage makeup, including the cost of makeup remover.


All grooming expenses that are not related to a role you have would be considered personal expenses and are not tax-deductible.

Research expenses

The cost of researching a character you were employed to play can be claimed. This could include the time usage cost of researching on the internet, fees for websites with the required information and reference materials. For internet usage, you will need to prove that your claimed usage was for work-related reasons.

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Agent fees

You may be able to deduct the cost of your agent’s fees or commissions. You can also claim the cost of renegotiating, reviewing or extending your contract if it is allowed on the contract. However, you cannot claim the expense for upfront or joining fees.

Other expenses

Performing artists have a variety of other potential expenses, including:


  • Multimedia costs, such as downloading music to use in rehearsals
  • Coaching classes to acquire or improve a skill 
  • Overtime meals
  • Phone and internet expenses for work-related usage
  • Self-education costs for any courses related to your current work. However, it doesn’t count if the course is in a different but related field. For example, an actor cannot deduct singing lessons if the purpose is to change employment.
  • Subscriptions to periodicals or magazines related to the field
  • Equipment or tools related to your job, such as musical instruments


Notably, many of these things could be items you also use in your personal time. If you do, then you can only deduct the portion of expenses you use for business purposes.

Expenses you can’t claim as a performing artist?

There are certain expenses that you cannot claim as a performing artist, such as:


  • Any costs connected to preparing for auditions, as this is to do with getting work rather than doing work
  • The cost of entertainment, including attending awards, galas, concerts, and other functions
  • Buying gifts for fellow performers, producers, and directors
  • Personal entertainment like music streaming and television
  • Health and fitness costs like gym memberships, even if you are expected to stay in shape


The health and fitness rule has a major caveat, as performing artists with an unusually high level of fitness might be able to claim. For example, ballet dancers and trapeze artists could claim the costs of gym memberships and health supplements.

How QuickBooks can help

If you are feeling overwhelmed thinking about tax season, you could use accounting software to assist you. QuickBooks can help you stay on top of your accounting as a performer and ensure a smooth EOFY.


Whether it’s auto-tracking your travelling expenses, or capturing your receipts on the go to store them digitally and track your expenses, our simplified accounting software streamlines the entire process.


Try it today with a 30-day free trial to unlock a faster way to do your taxes.



While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information presented as at 12 April 2024, Intuit is not providing you with professional advice and we recommend you obtain your own professional advice. Intuit is not liable for your use of the information presented.

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