Bloomberg Tax: Working-Class Performers and Artists Need Our Country’s Support

Working performers in the entertainment and arts sectors are employees, not contractors. Over the course of a year, they must spend significant but necessary expenses to sustain employment. Working class professional artists can spend between 20% and 30% of their gross income in any given year just to stay in the business. Such expenses include ongoing training, equipment, travel for auditions, promotional material, and talent agent commissions.

While the tax code has allowed working artists the ability to take an above-the-line tax deduction for these necessary work-related expenses, the qualified performing artist tax deduction hasn’t been updated since its inception more three decades ago—during the Reagan administration.


In Los Angeles, a member of Actor’s Equity and SAG-AFTRA told us he owed $4,175 on his taxes because of job expenses he couldn’t deduct, instead of getting a refund. An Equity actor from Sarasota, Fla. similarly reported that she owed $1,300 in taxes.