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Tax Season for the Working Child Actor

February 01, 2017

Although we get a couple of extra days this year to submit our 2016 taxes, we know that the tax filing deadline creeps up quickly and is really just around the corner.    Add a 'working actor child actor' to your household income and the tax season becomes a little more complex.  If you're unsure of how to handle your working child's taxes, you are probably experiencing some additional stress and anxiety.  Now is the time to find out what you need to do to prepare yourself before you sit down with your tax professional.

Children In Film understands that unanswered questions regarding the entertainment industry can lead to stress.  That's why we are working hard to answer your questions and provide you with all the resources you need.  On Wednesday, February 22nd, many of your tax questions can be answered by CIF industry pro member David K. Rogers of Actors Tax Prep in a LIVE webinar, FREE to all members of CIF.   According to David, the first question that usually needs to be answered is “Does my child need to file?”

Does my child need to file a tax return?

According to David K. Rogers, Tax Expert and ChildrenInFilm.com member, the first question that needs to be answered usually is whether or not your child even has to file taxes this year.  The answer is this:  A child who earns more than the greater of $1,000 or the amount of earned income plus $350 (not to exceed $6,100) as an employee (that is, as reported on W-2s) and whose parents claim him as a dependent must file.  If that child claims himself as a dependent, he must file if he earns more than $10,000 in W-2 income.  If, however, the child works as an independent contractor, he must file (because of self-employment taxes) if he earns more than $400 whether or not his parents claim him as a dependent.

Children who earn less than the above are not required to file, but often should because they can get all withheld income taxes refunded. Social Security, Medicare and CASDI Taxes are not refundable.

What can we report as our child’s expenses?
According to David Rogers, expenses for your child’s acting career can only be reported when she starts making money from acting. Acting classes, travel expenses for auditions, trips to conventions can’t be reported until this point. You can’t write off anything on your own taxes as a parent.

Once your child starts receiving payment for her work, plane tickets, travel expenses for an audition, and the like may be written off on your child’s tax filing. However, you can’t write off your own flight or other expenses.

What other services and resources can be taken as tax deductions on my child’s tax filing?
Your child can take deductions for expenses ranging from services used to promote her work, such as talent conventions, to services that support her education and knowledge about casting notices, such as ChildrenInFilm.com. Resume services, Photo shoots, demo DVDs, can all be deductible.  Books, scripts, music, Union dues are all additional expenses to consider. Don’t forget professional development: coaching, lesson, workshops, and seminars.
What about clothing? Can we deduct clothing for auditions?

Actually, only clothing that cannot be worn for day-to-day may be deducted. Costumes, yes. Jeans, no.

David Rogers offers a comprehensive check list to help you identify hidden areas that may be deductible.  Just remember, this is always about your child’s expenses, not yours, and these expenses may only be deducted on your child’s tax filing.

Members of Children In Film are encouraged to sign up today to participate in the Q&A Today on February 22nd at 4pm PST.  RSVP now to receive viewing instructions and a password.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure:
To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.