WASHINGTON – Americans will soon start gathering their receipts and documents to prepare their taxes, and entertainment workers anticipate owing unnecessarily burdensome amounts in taxes because they are unable to deduct required work expenses. In a letter sent today, unions of entertainment workers affiliated with the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) call on Congress to restore tax fairness for these middle-class creative professionals by passing the bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act (PATPA), S. 2872/H.R. 4750.
“Entertainment workers should not be punished by the tax code for seeking employment,” said DPE President Jennifer Dorning. “We urge Congress to fix this problem by passing the bipartisan Performing Artist Tax Parity Act.”
Most entertainment workers spend 20 to 30 percent of their income on necessary work expenses, including transportation to auditions, talent agents, and equipment. Up until 2019, these common work expenses were deductible.
PATPA allows entertainment workers to deduct essential work expenses by updating the Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) deduction. QPA is a provision of the tax law that allows eligible entertainment workers the option to take an “above-the-line” deduction for certain unreimbursed expenses. Currently, the adjusted gross income threshold for the QPA deduction is $16,000, a level unchanged since QPA’s inception in 1986 under President Reagan. PATPA would raise the threshold of the QPA deduction to $100,000 for single taxpayers and $200,000 for joint filers to help ensure middle-class entertainment workers qualify for the deduction.
The ability to claim the QPA deduction would have a meaningful impact on the lives of entertainment workers and their families. According to the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at the Actors’ Equity office in New York, a Pennsylvania sound engineer would realize a tax savings of over $4,500, a Nevada actor would pay $1,500 less in taxes, and a New York musician would save $3,000 under PATPA.
“After their industry was completely shut down by the pandemic, entertainment workers are still trying to get back on their feet,” said Dorning. “PATPA will put money back in the hands of entertainment workers to help them pay their rent, put food on the table, and contribute to their local economies.”
The labor organizations calling for the passage of PATPA include:
- Actors’ Equity Association
- American Federation of Musicians
- American Guild of Musical Artists
- Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
- Directors Guild of America
- Guild of Italian American Actors
- International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts
- Office and Professional Employees International Union
- Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
- Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
- Writers Guild of America, East