Actors’ Equity Association calls on Congress to restore tax fairness for performing artists

On the federal income tax filing deadline, the Actors’ Equity Association is calling on Congress to pass the bipartisan Performers’ Tax Parity Act (PATPA), introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D- CA) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL).

PATPA would correct an unintended consequence of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act 2017, which resulted in tax increases for many performers who could no longer deduct the cost of their ordinary and necessary business expenses not reimbursed. The House version (HR 4750) has nearly 70 co-sponsors. The Senate version (S2872) presented last year by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) has 14 co-sponsors.

Professional actors, managers, and musicians, for example, typically spend 20-30% of their income on necessary expenses — like paying for travel for auditions or a talent agent — to stay in the business and find a job. “I am grateful for the leadership of Representatives Chu and Buchanan who helped us build a strong coalition in the House, and Senators Warner and Hagerty who are building support in the Senate,” said Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Association. “Actors, managers and our colleagues are still suffering from COVID. Although unemployment in the performing arts is still more than double pre-pandemic levels, the cost of finding work has not gone away; in many cases it has increased.With record numbers of supporters and co-sponsors of the PATPA, there is no better time for Congress to pass this legislation and restore tax fairness for arts workers in the world. middle class across the country.”To highlight the growing support for PATPA, the unions behind the coalition have launched a campaign website, Tax Fairness for Arts Professionals (https://www.taxfairness4entertainmentworkers.org/). While the tax reform did not hurt high-income artists, many other industry players reported massive tax increases because they lost the ability to deduct business expenses. “People sit with me and burst into tears because they don’t know what to do,” Sandra Karastax lawyer and secretary-treasurer of the Actors’ Equity Association, previously told the Los Angeles Times, which covered the devastating tax increases that hit performers.

Supporters now include the Actors’ Equity Association, American Composers Forum, American Federation of Musicians, Americans for the Arts, Broadway League Choreographers Society, Dance USA The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, IATSE, The League of American Orchestras, The League of Resident Theaters (LORT), the Motion Picture Association, National Association of Music Merchants, Opera America, Performing Arts Alliance, Recording Industry Association of America, Recording Academy, SAG-AFTRA, Save Live Events Now, Theater Communications Group, Theater Producers League of Southern California and Writers Guild of America, East.

PATPA would update the Bipartisan Qualified Artist Deduction (QPA), which was originally signed into law by the President Ronald Reagan. The QPA allows an above-the-line tax deduction for qualified performing artists, but has been limited since enactment to a taxpayer’s total adjusted gross income of $16,000. PATPA would update the deduction to $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for married artists filing jointly. (R-FL) and Judy Chu (D-CA) in The Hill when the bill was first introduced. “Most of the theater actors and managers who belong to the Actors’ Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA members who work in television and film are hard-working – often struggling – taxpayers of the middle class. They have fallen through the cracks. of a flawed system.” To build support for PATPA, Equity has partnered with arts and entertainment unions, working in partnership with each other to meet the offices of Congress. Since the PATPA was first introduced in June 2019, unions have held dozens of meetings with congressional staff. In 2022, Equity testified before the House Small Business Committee about the need to pass the PATPA. Previously, Equity had partnered with SAG-AFTRA and testified before the House Ways and Means Committee regarding the need for tax fairness for actors and managers.

THE ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the American union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and managers. Equity strives to advance the careers of its members by negotiating salaries, improving working conditions and offering a wide range of benefits (including health and retirement). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks

Andrew B. Reiter