It’s tax season. If you are anything like me, you are freaking out about how much you owe the government. This past year, I worked a good chunk of the year as an independent contractor, so I did save up some money. But until my taxes are worked out, I will have no idea if I saved enough.
I usually have my taxes done by the same accountant who does my parents’ taxes, but this will be the last year that I do that. I’ve realized that I have been missing out on so many deductions that I can take as an actor because I haven’t used an accountant who specializes in actor taxes! So I’ve been doing lots of research on what I can include in my tax packed to my accountant this year to get as many deductions as possible (and to hopefully reduce how much I owe).
But as I did my research, I realized that there is a lot of outdated and unreliable advice out there. So I made a short list for you all of some places where you can find good tax advice (and even accountants who mainly do actor and creative type taxes).
First is from Inside Acting Podcast (full disclosure, I work for them as their production coordinator). The hosts, Trevor and AJ, interviewed accountant Chuck Sloan in some of their first episodes. But since it is tax time, they are re-airing those episodes so everyone can hear the advice given. Part one can be found here and part two is here.
Next is also about Chuck Sloan. His website is a wealth of information! I believe that next year when I use an actor accountant for my taxes, I will use him. But for my 2014 taxes, I checked out everything that he has on his website as guidance for what I should be doing and what I should be telling my current accountant.
Actors Tax Prep comes highly recommended and many of my actors friends use them and have only positive experiences. Like Chuck Sloan’s website, they also post lots of advice on their website that I found extremely helpful in learning what I should be telling my current accountant to do to maximize my deductions.
Backstage has posted several articles over the years regarding taxes, bookkeeping, and other financial advice that is specifically for actors. My only warning would be if you are reading one of the older articles, make sure that the information on there isn’t outdated. It usually is still correct, but some of the specifics might have changed (like the maximum amounts you can deduct for certain things).
Finally, if you want to have your taxes done by someone who understands actor taxes but cannot afford an accountant, SAG-AFTRA has a service called VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance). All union members are eligible for this service. Everyone should have the opportunity to have someone help them with their taxes, but so many accountants are expensive. So if you cannot afford the rate that the accountants are charging and you are a union member, take a look at VITA.
Hopefully with a little research (and being organized in 2014), you will have a painless time doing your taxes. And if you are having a tough time with your 2014 taxes, it’s not too late to be super organized for 2015.
If you have any websites with taxes advice or accountants that you know who specialize in actor/creative type taxes, please let me know in the comments!