Updates Performing Artist Tax Deduction for 21st Century
Arts and Culture Generate over $340 Million in Economic Activity in Southwest Florida

WASHINGTON – Congressmen Vern Buchanan and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) today introduced the Performing Arts Tax Parity Act, legislation to update the existing Qualified Performing Artist (QPA) tax deduction to help struggling actors and performers.

“The overwhelming majority of performing artists are lower-income and middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet,” Buchanan said. “Congresswoman Chu and I are fighting to update this nearly 40-year-old law to deliver needed tax relief for performing artists in Southwest Florida and across the country.”

Since being signed into law in 1986 by President Reagan, the tax code has allowed working artists the ability to take an above-the-line tax deduction for much-needed work-related expenses. However, this provision, which enjoys broad bipartisan support has not been updated since its inception nearly four decades ago. Today, it is only available to those making less than $16,000 a year. To better reflect today’s cost of living, Buchanan’s bill would update and increase the income ceiling to reflect today’s cost of living more appropriately: $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for married joint filers. The Performing Artists Tax Parity Act includes an automatic Consumer Price Index For All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increase to ensure that the deduction remains relevant as the cost of living increases in the future.

Congresswoman Chu said, “In an already demanding industry, paying for professional essentials like transportation, a talent agent, or equipment should not prevent entertainers from meeting their basic needs. I am proud to once again join in a bipartisan effort with Congressman Buchanan to ensure that entertainment professionals get the tax relief they deserve through PATPA and can continue inspiring Americans across the country.”

Working performers in the entertainment and arts sectors are employees, not contractors, who accrue significant but necessary expenses to sustain employment. Such expenses include ongoing training, travel for auditions, promotional material and talent agent commissions.

Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, said, “I thank Representatives Buchanan and Chu for the Performing Artist Tax Parity Act. This bi-partisan bill allows journeymen actors their legitimate business expenses and ensures their artistic contributions continue to enrich all of our lives each and every day.”

Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association, said, “Thousands of Equity members just filed their taxes, and again owed hundreds - sometimes thousands - of dollars more than before. The overwhelming majority of arts professionals are middle-class workers who just can't afford that. Fortunately, the tax code already recognizes the up-front business expenses of working in our industry; the problem is simply that the relevant income thresholds haven't been revised since the Reagan Administration. We are grateful for the leadership of Reps. Buchanan and Chu, and thank them for reintroducing this critical bipartisan legislation while we're all still working toward a full recovery of the live performing arts."

The latest Arts and Economic Prosperity Report from Americans for the Arts estimated that nonprofit arts and culture generates $342.4 million each year in economic activity for the Greater Sarasota/Bradenton area. This supports 8,705 full-time jobs, generates $244.6 million in household income and delivers $38.2 million in revenue to state and local governments.

Under current law, a Qualified Performing Artist is defined as having 1) performed services in the performing arts for, at minimum, two different employers during a taxable year, 2) an amount of allowable deductions exceeding 10 percent of their gross income related to those services, and 3) an adjusted gross income of no more than $16,000. 

“I know firsthand that our performing arts institutions and local talented performers are a tremendous asset in our community,” Buchanan continued. “This bipartisan legislation would help those creative workers unable to deduct expenses that relate directly to their employment and livelihoods.”

Buchanan is the vice chairman and most senior Republican on the powerful U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy.