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Income and allowances

Last updated 18 June 2023

Income and allowance amounts you need to include in your tax return and amounts you don’t include.

Amounts you do and don't include

You must include all the income you receive as a performing artist during the income year in your tax return, regardless of when you earn it, this includes:

  • salary and wages, including cash or bonus payments
  • allowances
  • compensation and insurance payments – for example, payments made under an income protection insurance policy to replace salary and wages.

Don't include as income any reimbursements you receive.

Your income statement or payment summary will show all your salary, wages and allowances for the income year.

Example: bonus paid based on ticket sales

Ralf is cast as the lead role in a play. Ralf's employment contract has a clause which entitles him to a bonus if more than 50,000 tickets are sold over the period the play runs. The bonus is equal to 1% of the cost of each ticket in excess of 50,000 tickets sold.

During the period the play runs, 80,000 tickets are sold. Ralf receives a bonus of $1,800 that is shown on his income statement at the end of the relevant income year.

Ralf must include the $1,800 bonus as income in his tax return.

End of example

Allowances

You must include all allowances your employer reports on your income statement or payment summary as income in your tax return.

An allowance is where your employer pays you an amount as an estimate of costs you might incur:

  • to help you pay for a work expense – for example, sound equipment or costumes
  • as compensation for an aspect of your work such as working conditions or industry peculiarities – for example, working irregular hours
  • as an amount for having special duties, skills or qualifications – for example, first aid qualifications.

Your employer may not include some allowances on your income statement. Find out about declaring income and claiming deductions for Allowances not on your income statement.

Allowances not on your income statement

If you receive an allowance from your employer, it does not automatically mean you can claim a deduction.

Your employer may not include some allowances on your income statement, you will find these amounts on your payslip. You don't need to declare these allowances as income in your tax return, unless you're claiming a deduction. Examples include travel allowances and overtime meal allowances.

If you spend the allowance amount on work expenses, you:

  • don't include it as income in your tax return
  • can't claim any deductions for the work expenses the allowance covers.

If you're not claiming a deduction, you don't need to keep any records of the amounts you spend.

If you spend your allowance on a deductible work-related expense, to claim a deduction you:

  • include the allowance as income in your tax return
  • include a claim for the work expenses you incur in your tax return
  • must have records of your expenses.

If you can claim a deduction, the amount of the deduction is not usually the same amount as the allowance you receive.

Allowances and claiming a deduction

The following table sets out allowances you may receive and when you can claim a deduction.

Allowance types, reason for the allowance and if you can claim a deduction

Reason for allowance

Example of allowance type

Deduction (Yes or No)

Compensation for an aspect of your work that is unpleasant, special or dangerous or for industry peculiarities

Height allowance

Irregular working hours

No

These allowances don't help you pay for deductible work-related expenses

An amount for certain expenses

Meal allowance when you travel for work

Yes

If you incur deductible expenses

An amount for special skills

A first aid certificate

Yes

If you incur deductible expenses

 

Example: allowance assessable, no deduction

Bessie is an acrobat. The show she is currently performing in requires her to carry out her act at heights over and above the average height acrobats generally perform at. Bessie's employer pays her an allowance for each show she performs at above average heights.

The allowance is shown on her income statement at the end of the income year.

Bessie must include the allowance as income in her tax return.

Bessie can't claim a deduction because she does not incur any deductible work-related expenses. The allowance compensates her for a dangerous aspect of her work. It is not to cover work-related expenses.

End of example

 

Example: allowance assessable, deduction allowed

Dennis is the stagehand manager for a theatre company. One of his employment duties is the be the designated first aid officer for the theatre company. To fulfil this role, Dennis must hold a first aid certificate and attend a refresher first aid course each year to keep his knowledge up to date.

Dennis receives an allowance for holding a first aid certificate which his employer shows on his income statement at the end of the income year. Dennis organises and pays for the refresher first aid course each year.

Dennis must include the allowance as income in his tax return.

Dennis can claim a deduction for the refresher first aid course. This is because he is the designated first aid officer and must complete training to assist in emergency work situations that may arise.

End of example

Reimbursements

If your employer pays you the exact amount for expenses you incur (either before or after you incur them), the payment is a reimbursement.

A reimbursement isn't considered to be an allowance.

If your employer reimburses you for expenses you incur:

  • you don't include the reimbursement as income in your tax return
  • you can't claim a deduction for them.

Find out about performing artists:

QC51260