Details on claiming performing artist expenses for:
- Taxi, ride-share, public transport and car hire
- Theatre and film tickets
- Tools and equipment
- Travel expenses
- Union and professional association fees
- Working from home expenses
You can claim a deduction for transport costs if you travel in the course of performing your work. For example, taking a taxi from your regular workplace to attend court.
You can’t claim a deduction for travel expenses between home and work, these are private expenses.
You can't claim a deduction if your employer reimburses you for these expenses.
You can claim a deduction for the cost of theatre and film tickets if the show has content directly related to your current work.
You can't claim the cost of tickets for shows you attend for general interest, entertainment or other private purposes.
Example: tickets related to current work
Ellen is a member of a professional ballet company. She attends a performance of Swan Lake by the Bolshoi Ballet Company that is on tour in Australia.
Ellen can claim a deduction for the cost of her ticket. Watching the style and standard of performance of a world famous ballet company is directly related to her income-earning activities as a ballet dancer.End of example
Example: tickets not related to current work
Benny is an employee actor. He regularly attends films and stage plays out of general interest and for entertainment.
Benny can't claim a deduction for the cost of attending the films and stage plays. The expenses are private.End of example
You can claim a deduction for tools and equipment you use to perform your duties as an employee performing artist. For example, guitars, speakers, lights and microphones.
You can only claim a deduction for the work-related use of the item.
If the tool or equipment cost you $300 or less, you can claim a deduction for the full amount in the year you buy it, if:
- you use it mainly for work purposes
- it's not part of a set that together cost more than $300.
You can claim a deduction for the cost over the life of the item (that is, decline in value), if the tool or equipment:
- cost more than $300
- is part of a set that together cost more than $300.
If you bought the tool or item of equipment part way through the year, you can only claim a deduction for the decline in value for the period of the income year that you own it. To work out your deduction use the Depreciation and capital allowances tool.
You can also claim a deduction for the cost of repairs to tools and equipment that you use for work purposes.
You can't claim a deduction for tools and equipment that your employer or a third party supplies for use.
Example: equipment less than $300
Scott is an employee musician. When his old guitar case breaks, Scott buys a new case. The guitar case cost $290 and Scott only uses when he takes his guitar to work.
Scott can claim a deduction of $290 in the income year he buys the guitar case.End of example
You can claim a deduction for travel expenses you incur when your work requires you to both:
- travel for work
- sleep away from your home overnight in the course of performing your employment duties.
Expenses you can claim include your accommodation, meals and expenses which are incidental to the travel (incidentals). For example, travelling interstate to shoot an advertisement.
You can't claim a deduction for travel expenses where you don't incur any expenses, because:
- you slept in accommodation your employer provides
- you eat meals your employer provides
- your employer or a third party reimburses you for any costs you incur.
Receiving an allowance from your employer doesn't automatically mean you can claim a deduction. In all cases, you must be able to show:
- you were away overnight
- you spent the money
- the travel directly relates to earning your employment income
- how you work out your claim.
If you receive a travel allowance you must include it as assessable income in your tax return unless all of the following apply:
- the travel allowance is not shown on your income statement or payment summary
- the travel allowance doesn't exceed the Commissioner's reasonable amount
- you spent the whole allowance on deductible accommodation, meal and incidental expenses, if applicable.
The Commissioner's reasonable amount is set each year. The amount is only used to determine whether an exception from keeping written evidence applies for the following expenses which are covered by a travel allowance:
You don’t have to keep written evidence such as receipts if both of the following apply:
- you received a travel allowance from your employer for the expenses
- your deduction is less than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
If you claim a deduction for more than the Commissioner’s reasonable amount you need to keep receipts for all expenses, not just for the amount over the Commissioner’s reasonable amount.
Even if you are not required to keep written evidence such as receipts, you must be able to explain your claim and show you spent the amounts.
Example: reasonable allowance amount and no deduction claimed
Khalid is employed as a performer in a touring production of a children's ice-skating musical. He travels from his home base of Adelaide to Melbourne, then onto Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and home to Adelaide with the tour. The total time he is employed on tour is 78 days.
Khalid's employer organises and pays for his flights between cities. His employer pays him a travel allowance of $255 per night for accommodation, meals and incidentals. The allowance isn't shown on his income statement.
The travel allowance amount paid to Khalid is less than the reasonable allowance amount and he spends all the travel allowance on his travel expenses.
Khalid chooses not to include his allowance on his tax return because:
- it's not shown on his income statement
- it's less than the reasonable allowance amount
- he spends it all to cover his deductible travel expenses.
This means Khalid can't claim a deduction for his travel expenses on his tax return.End of example
Example: less than the reasonable amount with deduction claimed
Veronique is employee at an opera company to perform in the major capital cities in their latest nationwide production. Veronique's employer pays for all the airfares and accommodation expenses.
Veronique is paid an allowance for meals and incidentals of $375 per week while she is on tour. The total allowance of $8,250 for the 22 weeks of the tour is shown on her income statement. Veronique spends less than the reasonable amount for meals and incidentals per day.
Veronique must declare the allowance as income in her tax return.
Veronique can claim a deduction for the amount she actually spent, and she isn't required to get and keep receipts for the expenses. However, if asked, she would be still required to show how she calculated her claim and that she had spent money on meals and incidentals.
Veronique can’t claim anything for accommodation because her employer paid for it.End of example
For more information, see TD 2022/10 Income tax: what are the reasonable travel and overtime meal allowance expense amounts for the 2022-23 income year?
You can claim a deduction for union and professional association fees you pay. You can use your income statement as evidence of the amount you pay if it's shown on there.
You may be able to claim a deduction for working from home expenses you incur as an employee. These can be additional running expenses such as electricity, the decline in value of equipment or furniture, phone and internet expenses. You must:
- use one of the methods set out by us to calculate your deduction
- keep the records required for the method chosen.
There are some expenses you can't claim a deduction for as an employee. Employees who work at home can't claim costs:
- for coffee, tea, milk and other general household items your employer may provide you at work
- for your children and their education including
- setting them up for online learning
- teaching them at home
- buying equipment such as iPads and desks
- your employer pays for or reimburses you for the expense
- for the decline in value of items provided by your employer – for example, a laptop or a phone.
Generally as an employee, you can’t claim occupancy expenses (rent, rates, mortgage interest and house insurance premiums), unless your home office or studio is:
- your only place of work because no other work location is provided by your employer
- exclusively or almost exclusively used for work purposes.
You can’t claim a deduction if your employer paid for your home office/studio to be set up or they reimbursed you for the expense.
Use the Home office expenses calculator to help you work out the amount you can claim as a deduction for home office expenses.
Example: studio used for practicing
Matteo is a musician. Matteo uses a separate room in his house, which he has set up as a studio, to practice. The room contains a stand for his instrument, a music stand for sheet music and a bookcase for his sheet music.
Matteo can claim a deduction for the cost of lighting, heating/cooling his studio when he practices. Matteo can also claim the decline in value of his instrument stand, music stand and the bookcase.
Matteo can't claim a deduction for occupancy expenses.End of example
For more information, see:
- PS LA 2001/6 Verification approaches for home office and electronic device expenses
- TR 93/30 Income tax: deductions for home office expenses
- PCG 2023/1 Claiming a deduction for additional running expenses incurred while working from home - ATO compliance approach
For more performing artists expenses, see: