Can I claim a deduction for grooming & clothing? I’m an actor!

By January 20, 2016 September 20th, 2018 Creative Business, Tax

CLAIMING FOR GROOMING AND CLOTHING

There was a tax ruling issued over 20 years ago that outlined myriad expenses that are commonly claimed, or at least are attempted to be claimed, by employee performing artists (e.g. stage and screen actors). I’ll go over a few of the ones we are commonly asked about here at the office. The key thing to remember here is that the ATO will allow a tax deduction if there is a direct connection, or “nexus”, between the income you’re earning and the expense you want to claim.

Grooming

This would include hairdressing, makeup, beauty treatments, etc. A deduction is generally not available for items of this nature. There are, however, exceptions. “A deduction is allowable for the cost of a particular hairstyle for a role. The cost of maintaining a particular style or length of hair as part of a costume for purposes of continuity, is an allowable deduction. Similarly, a deduction is allowable for the cost of make-up, including cleansing materials to remove stage make-up.” Note that simply maintaining a “well groomed image to the public” is not sufficient to claim a deduction.

Gym & fitness

“A deduction is not allowable for the costs of maintaining general fitness or body shape. A deduction may be allowable if a performing artist can show that physical fitness and physical activity are essential elements of the income-earning activities and are the means by which the performing artist earns income.” What this means in practice is that claiming these costs will depend on the physicality of your work – general acting work will be a no, but stunt people, or trapeze artists, would probably be okay.

Clothing

This is a big one and quite often misunderstood. Generally speaking, you can only claim for stage costumes. You cannot claim for maintaining a ‘look’ or for award night outfits. “A deduction is not allowable for the cost of purchasing a range of conventional clothing which might be used for stage or film work. As there is no connection with income-earning activities when the clothing is purchased it is a private expense.” Further to this, you cannot take an arbitrary percentage of all clothes purchased and say the percentage amount was for a role. To make a claim you’ll need to have bought the item specifically for a job and for it to not be used privately. Example: the wigs purchased for a production of Marie Antoinette would be fine, however the ubiquitous black jeans of guitarists would not.

If you’d like more detailed information regarding the above, or other artist deductions, please have a read of TR 95/20 yourself, or get in touch with our office. We advise a huge variety of performing artists and would love to have a chat to see how we could help you.

The above is a general guide only and does not constitute advice.