Reps. Chu and Buchanan Introduce Tax Fix for Performing Artists
Washington, DC — Reps. Judy Chu (CA-27) and Vern Buchanan (FL-16) today reintroduced legislation to update the Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) tax deduction which helps artists deduct the costs of work-related expenses. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the ability to claim miscellaneous itemized deductions, which previously allowed these artists to deduct their work expenses. The elimination of these deductions has caused many artists to pay thousands more in taxes. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act corrects this problem by updating the thresholds of the Qualified Performing Artists Deduction to allow more lower and middle-income artists to utilize it. Reps. Chu and Buchanan and endorsing organizations issued the following statements:
“After an unprecedented pandemic that darkened stages and film sets around the country, performing artists face a long recovery that could mean being some of the last people to return to work. That is why we must restore tax deductions that let these workers seek employment without facing steep personal expenses. Congress has already acted to support theaters through the Shuttered Venue Operators Program at the Small Business Administration, and now we must act to ensure that the actors, musicians, and artists who make performances so special are supported as well. Expenses like head shots, training/classes, management, agency and legal fees, and more force professional artists to spend up to 30% of their gross incomes just to stay in business each year,” said Rep. Chu. “For years, these expenses could be written off in their taxes, but that deduction was lost in the 2017 tax law, requiring artists to spend thousands more. This is an untenable hit to working families that hurts our economy and communities. I am glad that Rep. Buchanan and I could find a bipartisan solution to fix this problem and even the playing field for our country’s performing artists.”
“The overwhelming majority of performing artists are lower-income and middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet, while simultaneously pursuing their passions,” said Rep. Buchanan. “It’s past time to update this 30-year-old law to deliver needed tax relief for performing artists in Southwest Florida and across the country.”
“I want to thank Reps. Chu and Buchanan for drafting and introducing this important legislation. They are great champions of the creative professionals that keep our industry successful,” said Gabrielle Carteris, President of SAG-AFTRA. "We have been fighting for 35 years for this legislation because it will allow artists and media professionals to keep more of their hard-earned money, especially now when they most need it.”
“I am grateful for the leadership of Representatives Chu and Buchanan as they fight for tax fairness for performing artists while the industry is in a historic crisis,” said Kate Shindle, President of Actors’ Equity Association. “The overwhelming majority of Equity stage managers and actors are working-class people who work hard to make ends meet, and unlike other workers, they often have to spend 30 percent of their income on business expenses. Our producers can deduct their business expenses, and we should be able to do so, too. The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act will put more money in the pockets of working performers when they need it the most as we work toward recovery in the arts sector.”
“The American Federation of Musicians of the US and Canada is pleased to work with the bi-partisan Ways and Means team – the Honorable Judy Chu (D-CA) and the Honorable Vern Buchanan (R-FL), to restore the elimination of vital miscellaneous itemized tax deductions through The Performing Artist Tax Parity Act,” said Ray Hair, President of AFM. “The recent loss of necessary business expenses that were regularly deducted by musicians and performers under the Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) provision of the federal tax code, which were eliminated with the passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, resulted in a major tax increase for working musicians, now struggling to recover from irreparable loss to their income due to the COVID 19 pandemic. It will help professional musicians and other entertainers recover from the ravages of the pandemic and become whole again.”
“This is an excellent example of Congress putting aside partisanship to right a wrong that affects thousands of middle class behind-the-scenes entertainment workers and creative professionals,” said Matthew D. Loeb, President of International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) International. “This unnecessary tax hike has been hurting our members long before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down our work and wiped out our wages. Now, with a full return to work in sight, Congress should pass this bill, restore tax fairness, and ensure our workers come back stronger than before.”
“We applaud the re-introduction of PATPA and urge the Senate and House to pass this critical bipartisan legislation so the President can sign it into law,” said Jennifer Dorning, President of Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. “Middle class creative professionals have suffered greatly from the significant tax increases that resulted after they lost the ability to deduct their business expenses. Actors, stage managers, dancers, musicians, cinematographers, and many other creative professionals spend 20 to 30 percent of their income on necessary expenses to secure and maintain employment, including travel to auditions, talent agents, and camera equipment. Without the ability to deduct these expenses many middle-class professionals struggled to make ends meet even before the pandemic started when many creators still had income coming in. The PATPA will restore tax fairness and put more money in the hands of hard-working, creative professionals."
“This legislation is a vital way to support the creative workforce by addressing the financial conditions for performing artists to pursue their career, which also serves to increase access to the arts and benefits audiences throughout the country,” said Narric Rome, Vice President of Government Affairs of Americans for the Arts.
“Theatre Communications Group is pleased to endorse the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act, a tax correction sorely needed by performing artists, especially now, as their lives have been upended by COVID-19,” said Laurie Baskin, Director of Advocacy for Theatre Communications Group.