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General Tax information for Performers

The information below is for general information purposes only. Please consult your accountant, tax advisor or financial planner before you act on any information provided in these guidelines.

To avoid any discrepancies or legal tax-related questions, you should consult with a qualified tax lawyer and they will be able to better assist you. Click here for IT-525R  (info – from the INCOME TAX ACT regarding)

Performing Artists

What expenses can a performer claim come tax time?

Claim what you’ve spent:

  • In the year you spent it and
  • for the running of your business.

Put the details on form T2125, which you can download from http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t2125/README.html.

That’s all you do to be treated as a self-employed performer. You don’t need to:

  • make any money.
  • register your business.
  • have an agent.

Personal Use:

Is NOT deductible.  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, before you can deduct that.

Claim your share:

Of business 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.

Back Up:

If you are chosen for a CRA audit, 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 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. Keep any physical (hard or soft copy) invitations to meet if possible. You have to be ready to show:

  • what you paid (with receipts) and
  • what the purpose was (diary entries, note on the receipt itself, etc.)

Types of Expenses:

This list is not complete, you may have other legitimate expenses or 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. CRA assessors are not necessarily fully informed about your business (*=items usually challenged by CRA, be careful and put in explanations). You can always include extra sheets with your return.

  • Accountant: Deduct the fee in the year you pay it, not the tax year of the return.
  • Advertising, 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.
  • Business Meals (plus reasonable tip 10-15%)*: Meals are deductible if:
    • You had to eat out because you were between appointments,
    • you were out of town, or
    • you were treating someone else ( but only if you set it up ahead of time as a business meeting).
  • Dressing Room Supplies*: Duplicates in your on-set bag or at the theatre. Fan, humidifier, mirror, hair-dryer, etc.
  • Hair / Make-up*: Keep all your receipts, claim a proportion business vs personal.
  • Medical Insurance: Not medical costs. Yes to medical coverage for a work trip, or the premiums you pay.
  • Local Transportation: Cabs, transit, bicycle. Keep receipts with usage notes.
  • Out-of-Town Accommodation: If it’s not covered by the engager. Also for audition trips and research visits (it’s best to have invitation paperwork).
  • Office Supplies& Equipment: Stationery, postage, printer, etc.
  • Research: Books, museums, a portion of cable, portion of internet.
  • Classes: For acting skills, saleable special skills, and business skills. Serious gym.
  • Professional Gifts*: Put the name of the recipient on the receipt.
  • Professional Tickets*: Films and theatre.
  • Telephone: You can claim cell phone, prepaid phones, extra services, and long distance if calls are related to business. But not the basic rental of your home phone.
  • Wardrobe*: Strictly, except for short-lived dancewear, is not an expense. Only deduct if you couldn’t reasonably wear it personally.
  • 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 like:
    • Gas
    • Insurance
    • 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
    • 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 or 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 – 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.

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