Being written off doesn’t have to be a negative term. Those shoebox receipt keepers may need to be a full filing system to maximize your tax return! So what can you write off? Just about anything you use for your business of acting!
First and foremost, consult your accountant about new regulations and safety precautions to avoid IRS scrutiny, but then maximize the graces legally given! As of today, these 5 simple things are some of the most common write offs talent can take:
1) MILEAGE. My understanding is that the IRS now wants proof of where your automobile started the year mileage-wise. A dated image or written record of service (that includes your current mileage) at the beginning of the year should suffice. Mileage must be tracked every time you get behind the wheel for any talent purpose. Going to study a character in their natural environment for an upcoming role? Write off the mileage from your starting point to your destination and back home. (Any interim stops or detours for personal purposes won’t count.) Mileage can be tracked to auditions, bookings, visiting your agent, dropping off packages, picking up necessary items, and even maintaining your professional appearance. That’s just the beginning, so ask your accountant if you are unsure about an event. And be sure to check with them about how to document your mileage, as this is the first thing the IRS will require you prove in the case of an audit.
2) WARDROBE. There has never been a better reason to go shopping! Even those scrubs you picked up at Goodwill can be a write off if you keep your receipt and note the purpose. Need a business suit for an audition or shoot? The shoes, the pantyhose, the socks, the hairpin -- whatever you are asked to provide for your work as a talent would be considered wardrobe and can be considered a write off.
3) FOOD. Providing yourself something to eat while on set – even if it’s a resume-builder student film – can be written off. In this case, it may only be a certain percentage of the total, so be sure to consult your accountant.
4) MATERIALS / PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Your marketing materials are a common known write off, but did you know you can also deduct the classes you invest in to build your business? You work in an image business, so anything you do to maintain your daily image for castings and bookings is fair game!
5) CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS. Giving has never been so sweet! Use the opportunity to get a write off and make a public appearance in the name of your business (and including your agent adds brownie points!). Show up to support your favorite charitable organization to encourage support from donors or participants. Acting as a talent not only means you can write off your gift personally, but also gets you great publicity coverage in local news media!
Watch for the next post, which will add 5 more common write-offs. Work on getting these in order for now. What do you find is the most beneficial write-off you keep records for?