Hundreds if not thousands of mid-level actors saw an increase in their taxes this year because of President Donald Trump’s massive tax cut, which took away their ability to write off miscellaneous itemized deductions for expenses they incur to stay in the business and to find jobs.
SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity, however, are hoping that a bill introduced in Congress will fix that by updating the Qualified Performing Artist deduction that was signed into law by President Reagan. The bipartisan bill, known as the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, was introduced by House members Judy Chu (D-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL). Whether Trump would sign such a bill, even if it should make its way through the House and the Senate, remains to be seen.
“Our members incur costs simply in the process of applying for jobs that they might not secure,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said. “The introduction of the bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act is a major first step toward ensuring that performing artists will be safeguarded from future unintentional tax increases.”
Thanking Chu and Buchanan for introducing the bill, Carteris added: “SAG-AFTRA members work hard to entertain people around the globe while providing for their families. Any slight changes in their income could be detrimental and it is imperative that tax reform protects our community of performing artists as well as hardworking middle-class Americans.”
Actors’ Equity, which represents more than 51,000 actors and stage managers working in live theater, said: “While tax reform did not harm high-income artists who have the resources to operate corporations, Equity has heard from scores of members who faced massive tax increases because they lost the ability to deduct miscellaneous itemized deductions. Professional actors and stage managers are often employees, not contractors, who unlike typical workers spend 20%-30% of their income on necessary expenses — such as to pay for travel to auditions or a talent agent — to stay in the business and to procure employment.”
Said Equity president Kate Shindle: “The overwhelming majority of Equity members are middle-class Americans who work hard to earn health care and make ends meet. Over the last few months, we’ve heard from countless actors and stage managers that their taxes have gone up significantly. We are grateful for the leadership of Representatives Chu and Buchanan as they fight for tax fairness for performing artists.”