Allowable business expenses for models

Glamorous though it might seem, modelling is a profession like any other, subject to tax laws and brimming with opportunities for strategic planning. Accounting for deductible allowances from your tax bill is a simple yet effective way to make your business more profitable.

But unlike a more ‘traditional’ profession where discussions about allowable expenses can often focus on office supplies and stationary, it can be more difficult to discern whether the equipment a model relies on classes as an allowable expense.

For example, a client of ours recently asked if they could claim repairs to cosmetic surgery as a business expense. Many are also puzzled as to whether they can claim clothes they’ll be wearing in photoshoots.

In both cases, ask yourself: is the expense “wholly and exclusively incurred for the purposes of the trade, profession or vocation”?

What expenses can models claim?

For clothes, ask yourself, is it clearly for your modelling business only, such as a specialist suit with holes cut in it for microphones, or something in very loud colours for the stage? If so, then yes, you might be able to deduct its cost from your tax bill.

But if you’re looking to buy something that you’re going to add to your everyday wardrobe, that doesn’t count.

In the case of cosmetic surgery and repairs, again, you might be able to deduct the cost if it’s related to your work. For instance, teeth straightening prior to close-up work would count as an allowable expense.

Makeup and hair costs can be deducted to where there is a direct link to your work, while models who need to maintain an athletic physique might be able to deduct health and gym memberships.

Agent fees and subscriptions to professional associations, including union fees to the Model Alliance can likewise be deducted.

Advertising and travel 

Sometimes it pays to get back to basics and that certainly applies to a modelling business, so think about expenses you could claim for that aren’t directly linked to modelling.

That includes advertising costs you pay to promote yourself and your business.

Travel expenses are eligible too, although we should be clear that HMRC does not consider any commutes into work as an allowable expense.

But when it comes to travelling to a workplace that is considered ‘temporary’, the cost of fuel, taxi fares or train tickets can be deducted from your tax bill.

There are two ways to calculate your vehicle expenses. First, you could claim ‘simplified expenses’ which allows you to claim 45p per mile which changes to 25p for a car after 10,000 miles.

Alternatively, you could calculate the actual cost of running your vehicle for business purposes and deduct that.

Working from home

Don’t forget that you can also claim for expenses relating to working from home, including a proportion of utility bills like electricity and heating costs.

To do that, you have to devise a reasonable method to divide the costs – you can’t claim for the entirety of your bills, because at least some of the time you’ll have the lights and heating on will be during out of work hours.

Alternatively, you could claim simplified expenses for working from home if you work there for 25 hours or more a month.

Talk to us to see if your planned expense can be deducted from your tax bill.

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