The ‘Act’ states that as a self employed individual you are entitled to claim for expenses incurred “…wholly and exclusively… for the purpose of trade….”. The taxman will only allow expenses which come within this definition. Luckily this does cover most of the expenses you are likely to come across.

These are some of the more usual types of allowable expenses, bear in mind that this is not an exhaustive list:

1. Stage clothes – Clothes that you only wear on stage can be claimed for 100% of the cost

2. Ordinary clothes – This is a grey area, but the official line is, “the cost of ordinary every day clothing is not allowable – even if it is bought specially for business use”

3. Overnight accommodation – Where the trip necessitates one or more nights away from home the hotel accommodation and reasonable costs of overnight subsistence are deductible. The costs of lunches are not normally allowable, unless you are travelling on business

4. Travel – Travel to and from a regular gig at a regular venue will not usually be classed as business mileage for tax purposes. The reason for this is that the inspector will say that as you are at the venue so often, your trade is carried on from there, and not from home. You will have to convince him that although you do this gig quite a lot, your business as a musician is based at home. The best way of doing this is to show that you have other gigs elsewhere.

5. Stationery – Envelopes, paper, cost of printing, letterheads and business cards, pens, pencils, desk diary, photocopying, accounts, books etc. Small items of office equipment – files, rubber stamps etc. Large items of equipment such as a computer, desk and chair come under capital allowances later.

6. Postage – The Post Office will give you a receipt on request.

7. Telephone calls – Unlikely to be allowed 100% so restrict claim to an approximate business percentage.

8. Telephone rental charge – If half your calls are for business, claim half the rental charge against your tax. (Similarly, mobile phones.)

9. Instrument replacements – Strictly speaking, you should get a capital allowance for instruments but small inexpensive ones will usually just be allowed as an expense

10. Laundry and dry cleaning – For your stage clothes only

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