If you are a working stage manager or actor, chances are the GOP’s new tax law will negatively impact your financial life. Check out stories at American Theatre, Hollywood Reporter, and Variety that outline how.
#FairWageOnStage is an activist organization of rank-and-file Equity members who believe that communication, engagement, and action are vital for achieving a more financially equitable situation for working stage managers and actors. We will provide every resource we can find that advises how to mitigate the damage to your personal financial situation. However, we are not tax experts. Do consult a tax professional to help you assess your specific concerns. With that in mind, please consider our reading of how the new tax law may affect freelance professional artists who are not incorporated, but rather work from W2s:
Most Equity members will be hit hardest by the new tax law’s elimination of itemized deductions for unreimbursed business expenses. That means you may want to take advantage of current tax law in these final days of 2017. If you have the capacity to prepay deductible purchases and expenses now, you would need to do so BEFORE January 1, 2018.
Here is a list of things it might be a good idea to prepay, purchase and deduct for tax year 2018 while we’re still in 2017:
- Equity Dues – Colloquially, we’ve heard of a member prepaying up to three years of dues. There are no instructions for how to do this on the website. You must call the Equity office and do it over the phone. We did, and it took 2 minutes total:
- Call (212) 869-8530.
- Press 1 for Membership.
- Tell Membership you want to prepay your dues.
- They will facilitate your payment, and even email you a statement listing all the working dues and regular dues you paid in 2017, as well as a receipt for the payment you will have just made (since it won’t yet be reflected in the 2017 statement).
- New York State Property Tax – Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order that allows residents to prepay their 2018 property tax, a move he said could help people to “postpone the pain” for the upcoming year. NPR reports that you should consult an accountant to see how much you should prepay. There is a risk that the IRS may not accept the move. This is an “up in the air” move at the moment, but it’s meaningful the Governor made it, and you may want to at least try to take advantage of it.
- NOTE: Just tonight The Washington Post reports that with regard to property taxes specifically, there are unfortunately limits on what you can prepay.
- Streaming Services – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.
- Subscriptions – Actors Access, Casting Networks, Backstage, other business-related periodicals, IMDb Pro, online reel services, service agreements, storage and hosting, etc.
- Dance Class Cards
- Classes and Coachings
- iTunes Cloud Service Fees
- Theatre Tickets
- 2018 Internet and Cable
- Travel Expenses – Have business related travel in 2018 that you know about? Buy bus or plane tickets NOW.
- Movie Passes
- FedEx Print/Copy Card
- Office Supplies – Printers, Printer Cartridges, Markers, Pens, Pencils, Envelopes, Resume Paper, Post-its, Postage
- New Computer or Tablet you’ve had your eye on
- Charging Cables
- New Audition Binder
- Binder Sleeves
- Stagewrite (or other Theater Software)
- Components for your home Voice Over Studio
- Components for your home Self-Tape set up
- Stage Manager Supplies
- Teaching Supplies
- Dressing Room Supplies
- Professional Gifts up to $25 per person
Additionally, here is a downloadable PDF of common stage manager, actor, and performer expenses to remind you what is currently deductible.
This GOP tax legislation is a harsh reminder that elections have consequences. Our community will be impacted particularly hard. Thousands of performing artists will now shoulder a massive tax burden while profitable corporations will have their tax liability reduced to only 20%.
If we ever hope to secure an honest and fair wage for our work, it’s imperative to remember we each have a personal responsibility to be informed, educated, and knowledgeable about our political climate, and to do everything we can to get pro-labor progressive representation in every branch, and at every level, of our government.
That means vote. Get active. Get involved. Have tough conversations with family and friends who think differently than you do. Your voice matters. Tell your story. People do change when they see their loved ones suffering as a direct result of a set of policies. The time to rise is now. Apathy is not an option. 2018 is less than a week away, and we need all hands on deck to send a blue tidal wave into Washington in November. Good luck out there!
Fair Wage OnStage
THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED AS NEW ADVICE AND INFORMATION BECOMES AVAILABLE. CHECK BACK DAILY BETWEEN NOW AND NEW YEARS DAY.