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Addressing Theatre Artists’ Questions About Independent Contractor Taxes



The debate has come up over whether or not it is wise for theatre artists to agree to independent contractor work rather than being hired as an employee, but that is a separate discussion from how to file your taxes if you have already completed independent contractor work. Many actors and production staff work as independent contractors and receive several 1099 forms from different companies to file their taxes.


Unfortunately, there is often much confusion about filing taxes and misinformation is spread by people with good intentions or who are correct when describing a personal experience with their taxes but doesn’t apply to the person they are trying to advise. One way to alleviate these problems is to provide free or extremely low-cost but high-value workshops on taxation specifically prepared for theatre artists, including but not limited to workers who are performers, production staff, teachers/education staff, or work in other areas of theatre as independent contractors.


In order to best serve our community, you are invited to ask your questions, rant about a bad experience, vent frustration over an issue related to taxes or speak up about a concern or need you see in our community regarding taxes. These responses will then be used to develop a program where an expert will provide the information that our community needs and deserves.


Questions For Theatre Workers About Taxes

Here are some I have for the community:

  • Do you file your own taxes? If so, then how do you file your taxes?

  • Who do you turn to when you have questions about filing your taxes?


Things We Want To Know From A Tax Expert

I am sharing my questions to start off the list that I’ve had over the years or that others have asked about. You can also feel free to send me a rewording of a question or a “piggyback” question you’d like to contribute:

  • Why do I have to pay so much in taxes?

  • Do individuals who have worked several gigs that paid under $600 have to report those earnings?

  • What are the downfalls of being an independent contractor in terms of taxes?

  • Do I really need to set aside 30% of my paycheck?

  • Can I write off things I bought for my job and, if so, what? How much? Do I need to spend a certain amount before I am eligible?

  • What is a standard deduction and what does it do?

  • Am I eligible for a tax credit if I am a full-time student pursuing an MFA?

Keep The Conversation Going

This is part of an ongoing effort to connect theatre artists with experts outside of our industry who can help us grow financially, ethically and even better every day. It’s time we address legal and financial questions that we have all had but rarely have the opportunity to ask a professional about from taxation to labor laws, tenant rights to personal injury. Please talk about these issues among your colleagues and feel free to ask the things you are embarrassed to ask because it’s very likely that many, many other people are in a similar situation and aren’t sure what to do. Together we can raise everyone up, provide them with the knowledge to protect themselves and the tools to reach financial stability in a notoriously low-paying field.


Submit Your Comment Or Send An Email

While it would be great to set up a survey where responses can be anonymous, in order to receive the amount of responses I'm hoping for I would need to pay for a survey service. Instead, feel free to comment or to email me at amyemahon8684@gmail.com.


Photo: https://www.pexels.com/photo/quote-box-ontop-of-stack-of-paper-bills-4386372/

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