Arts and culture charities – Employment taxes

Actors, ballet-dancers, opera-singers, musicians and other performance artists may be employees or self-employed.

Most artists are engaged to perform particular parts, the performer having a whole series of separate engagements in different media making up his or her performing life. Currently these engagements are separated by periods of “resting”. As such, HMRC generally accepts performing artists to be self-employed and income tax is not required to be deducted.

There are, however, exceptions and income tax may need to be deducted where the artist is engaged:

  • for a regular salary to perform in a series of productions over a period, or
  • in such roles as may be from time to time stipulated by the engager, with a minimum period before termination of the contract

This would apply, for example, to members of some orchestras or opera, ballet or theatre companies. The Categorisation of Earners Regulations have also applied in the past.

Designers, directors and choreographers could also be employees or self-employed. HMRC will accept that they are self-employed where they are engaged for a specific production and:

  • the engagement is for a limited period which normally ends soon after the opening of the production, and
  • they are paid both a fee and a royalty (often dependent on box office receipts)

HMRC has also published guidance on the employment status of entertainers.

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