Actors' Equity has teamed up with several other unions to seek a tax deduction. (Photo: Walter McBride/Getty Images)

Actors’ Equity and SAG-AFTRA have joined with more than a dozen unions to advocate for a tax deduction for artists in upcoming relief packages. 

The unions have banded together to bring attention to the Qualified Performing Artist Tax Deduction, which allows artists to deduct professional expenses from their taxes. In a letter being sent to congressional leaders Monday, the unions have asked that the deduction, with an expanded income limit, be included in relief packages to help artists as they face a new filing deadline of July. 

Though the Qualified Performing Artist Tax Deduction has been part of the tax code since 1986 — allowing deductions of items such as agent commissions, equipment and classes — its income limit of $16,000 has not changed. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL)in June 2019, sought to expand the income eligibility limit to $100,000 for single taxpayers and to $200,000 for a couple filing jointly. The bill has not yet received a vote in the House. 

Artists had previously been able to deduct those expenses as miscellaneous itemized deductions. However, that option disappeared for many artists during the 2018 tax season, as the tax code increased the standard deduction and eliminated those deductions. 

Unions including the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Broadway League, the American Federation of Musicians, the Recording Academy and the Writers Guild of America have joined with Equity and SAG-AFTRA, who initially pushed for the updated tax deduction. Now that the deadline for income taxes has been moved to July, the unions, representing more than 500,000 workers, believe their members would be able to utilize the deduction this year.

“For countless theatre professionals who haven’t filed their taxes yet, the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act would mean more money in the pockets of people who face tremendous uncertainty,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “As Congress considers additional recovery packages, we will continue to advocate not just for tax fairness, but on health care and arts funding.”