Qualified Performing Artist Deduction

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In United States tax law, certain performing artists are eligible to deduct the expenses incurred in the course of their employment by § 62(a)(2)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code. This is an "above the line" deduction, meaning that it is used while computing a taxpayer's Adjusted Gross Income. It is an exception to the general rule, which requires job-related expenses to be a miscellaneous itemized deduction subject to the "2% haircut" rule of itemized deductions. As such, it is a favorable tax situation for the performing artist taxpayer.

To qualify for this deduction, a taxpayer must fit certain criteria:

  • The taxpayer must have worked as a performing artist for at least two employers,
  • the amount of the deduction must exceed ten percent of the taxpayer's gross income that is attributed to those performances, and
  • the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer, not counting this exception, does not exceed $16,000. See I.R.C. § 62(b)(1).

In determining who his or her "employers" were for purposes of this statute, the taxpayer must only consider those employers that paid the taxpayer an amount equal to or greater than $200 for the taxpayer's performance. See I.R.C. § 62(b)(2). As a result of this, relatively unknown artists who are paid less than $200 per performance are not allowed to take this exception. Artists who are sometimes paid an amount equal to or greater than $200 and other times paid less than that amount can only claim the instances on which he or she received over $200.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, artists who have an AGI more than $16,000 in a taxable year before this deduction are not allowed to take this deduction. This excludes well-known performing artists who make a large amount of income from playing shows from deducting their income therefrom.

This $16,000 cap has not been raised since 1986, meaning very few artists actually take advantage of the deduction due to inflation.[1] The deduction was intended for performers who pay their own airfare to and from engagements and who have the difficulty of spreading deductions over schedule C and schedule A.[2]

Additionally, any taxpayer who attempts to claim this deduction must either be single or married filing jointly. See I.R.C. § 62(b)(3).

See also[edit]

I.R.C. § 162(a) for further information on deduction of business expenses. [1] Article about the cap on the Qualified Performing Artist deduction