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“The Only Sure Things In Life Are Death And Taxes”: Tax Tips for Actors

April 7, 2013

One year while I was at his Princeton home preparing his return, Mrs. Einstein, who was then still living, asked me to stay for lunch. During the course of the meal, the professor turned to me and with his inimitable chuckle said: “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.” I replied: “There is one thing more difficult, and that is your theory of relativity.” “Oh, no,” he replied, ”that is easy.” To which Mrs. Einstein commented, “Yes, for you.”

LEO MATTERSDORF New York City

This year is the first year I have had to tackle my taxes on my own. In previous years, my parents have helped me get everything together. Depending on the amount of work I had during the year, I would sometimes opt to go to an accountant to make sure everything was in order. This year, I’m on my own. I went in to the Actors Equity building and signed up for VITA. I have my appointment this month. I’m assuming most of the bloggers and readers of this blog already know how to do their taxes, but just in case there are any first timers out there like me, here are some of the tips I know I will be keeping in mind next year:

  • If you choose to have your taxes done by VITA, be sure to arrive early to make your appointment. I made the mistake of arriving later on in the morning (thinking I was early), when everyone else had started lining up around 6am! There were two slots lefts by the time I got to the woman scheduling appointments, and they were both in April. Yikes. I was relieved to get an appointment at all.
  • Keep all your receipts in one place. Whether it be in a folder or in a shoebox, it is so much easier to manage your receipts when they’re all in one place. Also, print any online purchase receipts and put them with your other receipts. You should remember to keep receipts for any transportation you may have to take to and from auditions (as well as meals/lodging), acting classes/workshops, research expenses such as movie tickets/books/iTunes downloads/etc., marketing supplies such as headshots/business cards/websites/CDs/etc. It’s better to keep any receipts in question, and simply ask your accountant if the expenses are deductible.
  • If you purchase wardrobe, sheet music, etc. for an audition or job, write what audition/job you were going for along with the date at the top of the receipts. If you go for an audition or job that is out of town, be sure to keep food/lodging receipts and write the project name at the top of them as well. By the time you look at it again at tax time next year, there is no way you’ll remember that you bought that taco before the audition you did a year ago.
  • Once you have organized all you’re receipts, use the deductions sheet given to you by your tax accountant and put each expense into the appropriate category. I found it helpful to type up a sheet with all my expenses listed under each category. Then add up all the expenses in each category, and write the amount in the space provided after each individual category. At the end, total the amounts in each category, and write the amount at the bottom.

If anyone has tips on doing your taxes, I would love to hear them!

Good luck!

The Growing Artist Signature

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One Comment leave one →
  1. The Mothering Actor permalink
    April 8, 2013 9:04 pm

    I love VITA but If anyone needs another accountant who specializes in Actor/Performer Taxes, I also love Ruth Beltran 212.213.0639.

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