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Musician Tax Return Explained guide image

Musician Tax Return Explained

Self-employed Entertainers, Musicians, Actors, Composers & Authors; what expenses can I claim?

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If you are a freelance Entertainer, Musician, Actor, Author or composer you will have to make a Tax Return each year.  A common question we get asked is "What type of expenses can I claim?" Our comprehensive list should be helpful.

The Tax Inspector will allow revenue expenditure as a deduction from your freelance income when it is incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of your profession. The following is a list of the expenditure which HMRC will normally allow:-

Tax allowable expenditure

  • Accountants Fees including bookkeeping fees.
  • Advertising,
  • brochures
  • photographs
  • business cards and flyers.
  • Agent’s commission and complimentary tickets.
  • Auditions,
  • competition entry fees.
  • Bulbs, fuses, locks, keys, plugs, leads and minor repairs.
  • Computer consumables including USB memory sticks, external hard drives (back up) and software annual license fee.
  • Coaching and rehearsals for engagements in hand.
  • Dental work beyond normal needs of health.
  • Deputies and accompanists (exclude deputies for an employment).
  • Dress wear Hire of professional dress wear.
  • Laundering and dry cleaning of professional dress wear.
  • Replacement cost of professional dress wear.
  • Specific gig dress wear (at the behest of TV/ stage producer)
  • Hire Rehearsal studio or performance venue.
  • Tapes/ DVDs
  • Hotel accommodation on tour.
  • Instruments Insurance including part or contents policy, if appropriate.
  • Overhauling, tuning, repairs and maintenance. Strings or reeds, resin for bows and other instrument components.
  • Journals and catalogues.
  • Legal costs including fee recovery and to fix contracts. Manuscript paper and nibs.
  • Chiropody.
  • Throat spray and lozenges.
  • Treatment for specific business purpose (no dual purpose) including osteopathy, physiotherapy.
  • Microfilming and printing up rare music including digital archiving.
  • Motoring expenses (including car, van, motor cycle or bicycle) You can claim either direct costs or you can use the much simpler fixed mileage rates set out by HMRC. (see our FAQ’s for full details). Bear in mind, if you claim direct costs you can only claim the business proportion.
  • Music for pupils, music for current engagements which you have not retained for more than two years.
  • Newspapers and Music Reports (only to read reviews or seek work).
  • Own property – calculate business percentage on floor area:- Cleaning. Insurance. Redecorating studio Rent and rates. Repairs and maintenance.
  • Photocopying. Porterage, carriage, Securicor, removals Postage. Private pupil’s exam fees and prizes. Recording equipment. Batteries for radio/ cassette recorder/ calculator.
  • Blank tapes/ CDs/ DVD for rehearsal. Demo discs/ tapes including cost of engineer to record them. Memory cards. Style and maintenance. Records / tapes / CDs / DVDs not retained for more than two years.
  • Replace tour luggage and toiletries.
  • Residential music festivals and conferences.
  • Research assistance and material.
  • Royalties to PRS.
  • Software for your computer, web domain, registration and hosting fees.
  • Stage appearance. Contact lenses and spectacles, maintenance insurance thereof (you must have second set of lenses or spectacles that you use outside work).
  • Fitness costs if relate specifically to role. Hairdressing, cosmetics, beautician. Make up and remover.
  • Stationery and printing
  • Subscriptions to professional bodies.
  • Subsistence – you are allowed to claim the cost of all your meals when on overseas engagements. Only claim the cost of the evening meal when on tour in the UK and day time meals incurred on business travel.
  • Television – if much of your work is on stage:- License fee. Rental. Repair.
  • Telephone:- Land line – request call transaction listing from the line provider to calculate business amounts. Internet connection. Mobile.
  • Tips including tips to dressers, call boys, stage doorkeepers.
  • Travel:- Bicycle repairs and maintenance, consumables and insurance – calculate the business use on a mileage basis. Fares to the engager. Fares to other than engager, e.g. music shops, libraries, auditions, festivals. Inoculations. Travel cancellation fees. Travel insurance. Visas.
  • Visits to cinemas, concerts, opera, theatre, but only the cost of the ticket and only if akin to your repertoire.
  • Wardrobe expenses – replacement and renewal of existing items (including shoes and towels) and props.

Capital Expenditure (Capital Allowances)

A deduction from your taxable income, called a Capital Allowance, can be made in respect of your expenditure on “Fixed Assets” namely the movable tangibles likely to last over two years that are used in your business. The following are some examples:-

  • Dedicated lighting.
  • Bicycle.
  • Books including music reference books.
  • Camera, projector, screen. Carrying case.
  • Computer and printer. Fax machine.
  • Instrument and associated equipment.
  • Metronome.
  • Motorcycle.
  • Motor vehicle including car and van.
  • Music shelving. Music stand. Office furnishings including carpets and curtains. Office furniture including desk, chair, filing cabinet and bookcase. Piano stool/ seating for playing instrument.
  • Photocopier. Plant and machinery (equipment). Property. Recording and playing equipment including television (if much of your work is on stage), DVD, VCR, cassette recorder, hi-fi and music centre. Records, CDs/ DVDs and recorded tapes. Research and development.
  • Scores and enduring music (lasts over two years).
  • Telephone including mobile phone.

Remember that when you commence your business that you can claim capital allowances on the “Fixed Assets” which you have introduced to the business even if you purchased an item several years before you commenced your business.

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