Information below is for
general information purposes only. Please consult your accountant, tax
advisor or financial planner before you act on information in this FAQ.
This material was offered by Peter Messaline
The TaxXman on the CanadianActor
Online Discussion Boards), and is based on some of his postings.
Reprinted with permission of Peter Messaline, who retains copyright.
See the TaxXman's current answers
to questions on the CanadianActor
Online Discussion Boards. And see
What expenses can an
actor claim come tax time?
Note: To avoid any descrepencies or legal tax-related questions,
consult with qualified tax lawyers and they will be able to better
Claim what you've spent:
Put the details on form T2124, from the Business & Professional
Guide. (This form can be
downloaded or mailed to you.) That's all you do to be treated as a
self-employed actor. You don’t
- In the year you spent it and
- for the running of your business.
- make any money.
- register your business.
- have an agent.
- be a union member.
Isn't deductible, so if there’s something you use personally, and
in business -- like the car,
your home, or a trip on which you did some business -- then you have to
find a way of showing what
proportion was business, so that you can deduct that.
Claim your share:
Of costs you pay with someone else. Keep a copy of the receipt with a
note of your share. You
don’t send in any of these receipts, but you should assume they
could be called for afterwards.
The more evidence you have,
the better. You must keep receipts and they must show the amount, the
date, and the purpose. (You are allowed to write the missing
information on the receipt.) If you use an accountant, he or she most
likely has your important financial data stored in a software program
such as QuickBooks
Online Accountant Edition, so keep that in mind. Keep your income
paperwork, too: the payslip, the agent's notes, as well as the T4A.
Keep a diary with details of what you did, who you met and what you
talked about. Arrange business trips ahead of time - get invitations to
visit if possible. You have to be ready to show:
Types of Expenses:
This list is not complete, you may have other legitimate expenses and
you may not be able to claim
under a specific heading, depending on your career and your income.
Each case is different, and each
assessor is different, too. CCRA assessors are still ignorant about our
business and likely to guess
based on their own experience. I've asterisked (*) recent
hot-button issues: be careful and put in
explanations. You can always include extra sheets with your return.
the fee in the year you pay, not the tax year of the return.
Promotion: Photos, résumés, anything that tries to
get you work
Agent Commission: Plus
GST for the agent, plus any other fees you pay.
Business Fees: Union
dues, work permits, association memberships. Read on for initiation,
(plus tip)*: Meals are deductible if:
You had to eat out
because you were between appointments,
you were out of
you were treating
someone else ( but only if you set it up ahead of time as a business
Supplies*: Duplicates in your on-set bag or at the theatre. Fan,
humidifier, mirror, hair-dryer
Hair / Make-up*: Keep
all your receipts, claim a proportion
Medical Insurance: Not
medical costs. Medical coverage for a trip, or the ACTRA Frat
Transportation: Cabs, transit, bicycle. Keep receipts with notes
about the usage.
Accommodation: If it’s not covered by the engager. Also for
audition trips and research visits (it's best to have invitation
& Equipment: Stationery, postage, printer stuff.
museums, a portion of cable.
acting skills, saleable special skills, and business skills. Serious
Gifts*: Put the name of the recipient on the receipt.
Tickets*: Films and theatre. And video rentals.
can claim pager, cell phone, prepaid phones,
extra services, and long distance if calls are related to business. But
not the basic rental of your home phone.
except for short-lived dancewear, it’s all Capital Cost, and only
if you couldn’t reasonably wear it personally. The rule may not
be generally applied, but it's there.
- Car*: Percentage Business Use. The ratio of
your business and personal use. The only watertight way to go is with a
mileage log. Deduct the business percentage of your share of costs
- Repairs & Maintenance - Get a receipt.
Don’t accept the "tax-free no receipt" option.
- Registration & License
- Loan interest - which will be a part of
your monthly payment.
- Lease payments - Your return will need a
bunch of details off the lease agreement.
- CAA - or other association
- Capital Cost:
- Anything that you go on using after the year
end is technically a Capital Cost. In practice CCRA doesn't worry about
stuff under a couple hundred bucks. Larger items should be depreciated:
you take a fraction year by year as you use it. Look at the Business
and Professional Guide (or Tax Kit 2000+) for the way to calculate
- Plus - Equipment, washes, parking tickets - but
NOT moving violations.
- Business Use of Home*: Claim the percentage
that your working space uses in your living space.
Claim the percentage of your share of costs like:
- Rent - Get a receipt from your landlord.
At least keep your cheques.
- Property Tax
- Mortgage Interest - The bank gives you an
annual statement showing how much this is.
- Electricity and Gas
- Insurance - Of the whole place. The whole
of Home Office insurance if you have it.
- Cleaning - General interior and exterior
cleaning service and products.
- Repairs and Maintenance - Take the whole
of work done on the office itself.
BACK TO TOP
A point was raised in a Private Message on the CanadianActor
Online Discussion Boards by a full-time university student in
another field. She has been taking
acting classes, and is determined to be an actor,
and wonders if she can deduct her expenses. The question is:
- Will CCRA (Canada Customs and Revenue Agency) regard
her as a self-employed actress before she has made any money
You can deduct acting expenses at college, but there
are two issues. CCRA looks for an indication
It may be that a fulltime course, especially in another subject,
might be a barrier to spending enough hours in a week on the business.
- the business has started (getting an agent, sending
out headshot and resumes, actually working), and
- visible intent (training, time spent on the business).
Then there is this question:
At university, your taxable income would most likely be low. Taking
deductions, so that your tax bill
is reduced, or your refund increased, might trigger challenges to your
professional status. However,
while you might deduct résumé and picture costs, if CCRA
accepts you are running the business,
taking training in a second career is not deductible as an expense.
You can deduct acting class fees when you're an actor, but in this case
it's an investment in your future, and treated as a capital
Capital expenditures are treated like capital cost, at a fixed, low
- Does she actually need to deduct her expenses to
reduce her tax payable?
This sounds like the best route. Deducting the training
over a number of years,
when your income needs the reduction, is technically correct and
wouldn't draw as much attention as reducing your income to impossibly
even if that is what actually happened.
BACK TO TOP
Look in your local blue pages for Taxes, Federal.
For the Toronto area, the numbers are: Individual Tax
Inquiries:1-800-959-8281; Business Inquiries (Self-Employed and
Tax for performers, by a performer.
Fifteen years of tax preparation: I've already helped someone you know.
preparation and free advice. Take the deductions you're owed.
Country-wide service. Income
tax, GST, incorporation, kids. Call Peter Messaline (416) 960-1785 firstname.lastname@example.org
Turn your art into a living. Your one-stop career shop. Canadian tax
and career advice from the foremost arts
entrepreneur writer. Don't rely on gossip and American authorities --
play by Canadian rules!