Canadian Tax Return Series: What Can Actors Claim?

Actor, business, Vancouver, taxes

Vancouver has a very successful entertainment industry and as a result is the home of many actors and actresses. For a lot of people in the acting community what you can and cannot claim as a tax deduction can be very confusing as urban legends about possible expenses tend to run rampant throughout the city.

We spoke with a local actor, David, who was audited by the CRA in 2001. A lot of the expenses he believed he could claim were rejected by the CRA because they were deemed as personal expenses.

We hope that this post will help you improve your understanding of what you can claim and the penalties that you may face if you claim expenses that are denied.

Did you think you had anything to worry about when you found out you were being audited?

Not really, I had been given a rough guide to follow by my accountant that listed items that were considered fair deductions. After referring to the guide I thought all of my claims were rather conservative.

What expenses did you claim that were denied?

The cost of my headshots, clothes that I had purchased specifically for auditions, movie tickets that I had purchased to study my craft and the cost of my acting classes were all deemed as personal expenses, not business expenses.

Additionally, my car expenses were denied (which was surprising) after the CRA deemed traveling to and from auditions as a personal expense.

Were you penalized?

YES!! I ended up owing around 30K in tax and penalties after the audit.

What did you learn from this experience?

Be really conservative with what you claim. Also if you are in doubt check with a recommended tax consultant who regularly deals with actors tax returns.

Also, make sure you communicate with the CRA if you owe money. They are fair and will devise a payment plan for you so long as you talk to them. If you ignore them they will just continue to punish you.


Homeroom Small Business Solutions has a lot of experience filing tax returns for actors if you would like us to help you complete your 2019 tax return please contact us to make an appointment.

CRA Online Mail Service

Manage Your CRA Mail Online

In case you didn’t hear the news because you are new to Canada or have been living in a remote cave for the past few years the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) introduced electronic mail in 2015. The services is accessed through their portal called Manage Online Mail. Not only will you save trees you will also save yourself the stress of missing important notices and losing past assessments by signing up for this service!

This service will provide you with:

  • quick and convenient online access to notices (notices of assessment and reassessment) and;
  • online access to future eligible correspondence as more becomes available electronically.

With your consent, tax preparers who EFILE your Individual Income Tax and Benefit return can assist you with the registration for online mail. Once you are signed up for online mail, you will receive an email confirming your registration. Eligible notices will no longer be printed and mailed to you. Instead, an email notification will be sent to your personal email address when new mail is available to view online. Similar to the system employed by banks, no sensitive or confidential information is sent to you by email, nor do we request to receive such information from you through email. Rather, once your mail is available online, you are asked to log in to My Account, a secure CRA online service, to view and, if required, print it.


  1. If you are interested in this service, your tax preparer can register you for online mail. A new field has been added on the T1 Return and T183 Form to include your personal email address.
  • Provide your personal email address to your tax preparer and then sit back and relax.

Each year you sign a T183 Form which authorizes your representative to EFILE your return. By providing your email address, you are giving your tax preparer consent to sign you up for online mail.

  • Your tax preparer will then enter and submit your personal email address to the CRA when filing your tax return.
  1. You can also register directly online with My Account, a secure CRA online service,

Viewing Your Online Mail

 My Account is the only place to view your online mail. To view your online mail;

  • Register for / login to My Account at
  • Access notices of assessment or reassessment (and future items) from the “Welcome Page”. On that page, you can view and print correspondence items.
  • Select “Manage online mail”, to update an email address or cancel online mail.





Website and branding tips for your business

Founded in 2001, Sparktank Creative is a boutique design agency that works with organizations to design unique, effective branding, website development, print and marketing solutions tailored to each client’s particular goals.

We spoke with Founder and Creative Director Juliette Schmerler about the importance of creating a great website and having professional branding.


Why is it important for business owners to have a well-designed website?

Juliette: A website is often the first point of contact for a potential client so it’s important that it presents a professional image.
When a website is well designed, uses effective imagery and strong messaging it instills a sense of confidence in the business.  Equally important is user-friendly navigation. Menus, calls to actions, and the general flow of information should be carefully planned out so that visitors find what they are interested in quickly and without frustration.

Why is it important for business owners to have good branding?

Juliette: Branding is the look and feel of your business. It’s how all your marketing and communications present you to the world. Think of companies like Lululemon, Vancity, Westjet. They all have a certain “personality” that they’ve set out to present to the world. These strong brands build trust and attract customers that identify with that brand. A strong brand can also help differentiate you from your competition.

Why do business owners need to have a responsive website?

Juliette: 30% of website visitors come from mobile devices such as tablets and mobile phones and that number will continue to grow. A responsive website is a website that resizes to fit whatever device you view it on – whether it’s desktop or mobile. Simply put, responsive websites work properly on a mobile device – no frustrating scrolling and endless zooming to use your website. Less frustration leads to more visitors and fewer people abandoning your website.

Can you explain what SEO is and why it is important for business owners who want to attract new clients via the web?

Juliette: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving a website’s visibility on search engines. There are a number of techniques used to help boost a website’s rankings such as the use of targeted and researched keywords in the website code and content, linking, proper coding, etc… Because search engines are so widely used, getting those top spots on the search engines has become increasingly competitive so a carefully planned SEO plan is critical. If done well, a successful search engine campaign can produce an excellent return on investment.

How can business owners make sure their website is found by their ideal clients?

Juliette: The most effective way to attract the RIGHT clients is to A) define who your target audience is and B) provide content on your website that your target audience will find useful and relevant. Ask yourself what problem you can solve for your customer and show them how you will provide solutions. For example, a blog is a great place to present case studies and articles that speak to your target audience and prove your expertise in a natural, helpful way.
If you need help creating a great website or developing your business brand contact Juliette at Sparktank Creative today.