f this is your first year as an actor, the first step is to register for self-assessment with HMRC.
Taxes for actors are unique in that there are expenses that you can claim that most people can not.
You will report all your worldwide income on the tax return.
If you have a side job, that should have PAYE tax deducted at source and so you can claim that tax in the return to reduce your tax bill.
The main expenses you will have as an actors are agent and manager fees – these are all allowable.
You will also be able to claim for maintaining your image – including hair, make up and beauty products if directly related to your work.
If you need clothes for a role or auction, then these will also be allowable expenses.
Travel, accommodation, subsistence will all be fine when you are touring. You can claim travel and subsistence if you are traveling to a temporary workplace of up to 24 months.
Research will include Apple TV, Netflix, Disney and other streaming services – books and subscriptions to online sites.
Memberships to Equity, Spotlight and other professional organisations will all be allowable.
Using an actor accountant to help you
If this is your first year or you do need help claiming expenses and the actor tax return forms, then you may want to hire an actor accountant to guide you through the process of what is tax deductible and to file the tax return online for you.
The latest tax year covered 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020, due to be filed by 31 January 2021 – the final tax is due at the same time.
You can file a paper tax return, this is due earlier and you will need to file your tax return by 31 October 2020.
Payments on account with HMRC
If your tax from self-employment is £1,000 or more, HMRC will ask that you make payments on account for the next tax year.
These payments on account (POA) are 50% of the tax due for the previous year.
POA for 2020-21 will be due on 31 January 2021 and 31 July 2021.
The issue that a lot of actors face is the first year for making POA where you have to pay for that year and then also in advance for the next year and that can be a shock to find all the cash quickly.
You will also have National Insurance – class 2 and 4 – these will all be paid through the self assessment tax return.
If your tax is under £1,000 and you have an employed job as well, HMRC may be able to adjust your tax code to reclaim the tax that way – you will need to file your actor tax return early though to use that.
If you have lost work and your taxable income has reduced because of the pandemic, you can claim for the self-employment grant and the employment income support scheme if you had a side job as well.