Yes, you can take the expenses as deductions, if you are ready to work and actively seeking work. The IRS considers this self-employment (unless you become a W-2 employee for someone). You report your expenses (and income when you make it) on Schedule C like a business. It will ask you lots of questions about your business that may not fit your situation, but just do the set up and you will get to the part where they ask you to add your expenses. If it is a loss, this will carry to your 1040.
Well I think with the new tax changes, any acting job is going to come in the form of a W-2. This is causing a lot of problems for actors DO get work. I got a W-2 for acting I did last year (2019), and I'm having trouble finding out how to claim expenses. Can I still claim expenses as self-employed even though I did get employed by a theater for the summer?
To claim expenses on Schedule C as self-employment expenses, you must be self-employed, not seeking W-2 employment.
Job-related expenses for employees are no longer deductible on most people’s federal return in tax years 2018 through 2025 due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that Congress signed into law on December 22, 2017. However, the job-related expenses deduction is still available to people who work in one of these specific professions or situations:
- Armed Forces reservist
- Qualified performing artist - see page 4 of the IRS instructions
- Fee-basis state or local government official
- You're disabled and have impairment-related expenses
Additionally, job-related expenses may be deductible in your state. Enter your expenses and we’ll figure out if you can deduct them. Expenses that qualify for this deduction are those the IRS considers "ordinary and necessary" for work, like uniforms, tools, union dues, licenses, and travel between job sites.
- Where do I enter job-related employee expenses? (Form 2106)
- Can employees deduct commuting expenses like gas, mileage, fares, and tolls?
- Which federal tax deductions have been suspended by tax reform?
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1) If you were, or are going to be, an independent contractor and report your income on schedule C, and you have expenses but no income, you don't do anything now. In the first year that you have self-employment income you can list all your prior expenses getting started as "startup expenses". Depending on the amount, they might be deductible all at once, or they might be partly deductible all at once and partly spread out over 15 years.
(This would normally apply to someone starting a business as a bakery, for example, where they have expenses before they open. But it certainly can apply to an actor or anyone else trying to be a schedule C self-employed person who has startup expenses.)
2) If you end up as a W-2 employee, as a qualified performing artist, you can only deduct expenses against income. You may be able to deduct 2020 expenses against 2020 income, if you are a qualified performing artist for 2020. But since you are not a qualified performing artist for 2019, you can't deduct your 2019 expenses, even if you get a job in 2020.