New York — Actors’ Equity Association, the national union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers working in live theatre, applauded the reintroduction of the bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PATPA), introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL). This bill would correct an unintended consequence of the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act which led to tax increases for many performing artists who could no longer deduct the cost of their ordinary and necessary unreimbursed business expenses.
Professional actors, stage managers and musicians, for example, typically spend 20 to 30 percent of their income on necessary expenses -- such as to pay for travel to auditions or a talent agent -- to stay in the business and to procure employment.
“Thousands of Equity members just filed their taxes, and again owed hundreds - sometimes thousands - of dollars more than they did before the 2017 passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “The overwhelming majority of arts professionals are middle-class workers who just can't afford that. Fortunately, the tax code already recognizes the up-front business expenses of working in our industry; the problem is simply that the relevant income thresholds haven't been revised since the Reagan Administration. We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Buchanan and Chu, and thank them for reintroducing this critical bipartisan legislation while we're all still working toward a full recovery of the live performing arts."
More than 90 members of the House cosponsored PATPA in the last Congress. PATPA has been endorsed by a broad coalition of employers and unions, including the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), Americans or the Arts, Recording Academy, American Federation of Musicians, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE and Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO.
While the 2019 tax reform bill did not harm high-income artists, many others in the industry have reported massive tax increases because they lost the ability to deduct their business expenses. “People sit with me and just break into tears because they didn’t know what to do,” Sandra Karas, a tax attorney and secretary-treasurer of Actors’ Equity Association, told the Los Angeles Times, which covered the devastating tax increases that hit performing artists.
The bill would update the bipartisan Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) deduction, which was originally signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. The QPA allows an above-the-line tax deduction for qualified performing artists but has been limited since it was enacted to a total adjusted gross income of the taxpayer to $16,000. PATPA would update the deduction to $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for married artists filing jointly.
ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. www.actorsequity.org #EquityWorks
April 19, 2023