March 23rd, 2015

Travel costs and Actors

You would think this to be a black and white area for tax.  Over the last few years the waters have muddied and it has become an increasingly grey and a difficult area on which to advise our clients.  Generally we would consider an actor be an ‘itinerant worker’ and apply HMRC guidelines for itinerant workers when claiming travel and subsistence costs.  This is because, as an actor, you’ll usually be working on a number of productions over the course of the year.  You will be incurring travel costs getting to auditions. Meetings with agents, producers, your accountant. Getting to rehearsals.  Filming on location. Working away from home for periods when you’re part of a tour. And the list goes on.

Typically the expenses that you will incur include:

There are also good arguments to support a case that your home is your business base as from home you would typically:

In recent tax cases, HMRC have tried to disallow any home to work travel (commuting).  The circumstance in which you are most likely to find your expense claims challenged in this way are where you are working for a longer period of time at the same place eg if you were acting on a ‘Soap’ and travelling from home to the same TV/Film Studio on a regular, predictable basis you may find HMRC looking to disallow your travel expenses.

There was a recent high profile case involving the actor Tim Healy.  In fact, no final ruling has been reached as yet as the Upper Tier Tribunal have sent the case back to the First Tier Tribunal to look at again.  One interesting point that came out of this case on its first hearing was the importance of keeping good records.  I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to keep receipts for all expenses and a log recording the reasons for business journeys.  Even if it’s just hand-writing on your receipt what the reason for the journey was or at least what production it related to.  Tim Healy had his claim for food and taxis disallowed because he had kept insufficient evidence to show where meals were taken and where taxi rides went.  He was only able to make estimates of amounts involved.  In this case, HMRC didn’t allow them.

So, our current advice is :

Hopefully, following the outcome of the rehearing of Tim Healy’s case at the First Tier Tribunal then some clearer guidance will be given as to what people in the industry can and cannot claim.

If you would like any further advice on claiming expenses please contact me by email at lford@jonathanford.co.uk.

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Director

Alison obtained a First class degree in Accountancy and Management at UCLAN University. She then went on to qualify as a certified accountant in 2006 and became a founder member in 2011.

Alison trained at a practice in Liverpool and, within her 10 years there, she developed as an accounts manager and obtained a varied portfolio of clients which has provided her with a range of experience in accounts, audit, VAT and taxation.
Alison specialises in giving sound jargon-free advice to a range of small and medium sized businesses.

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