Actors and entertainers – profession or employment
19/01/2023

There is a particular section of internal HMRC’s manuals that deals specifically with how to view the rules for measuring profits of specific trades. The list includes over 50 different trades as diverse as actors, athletes, barristers, bookmakers, motor dealers, care providers, doctors and dentists, financial traders, marine pilots, missionaries, pawnbrokers and subcontractors.

The section on actors and other entertainers states these people may be engaged under either a contract for services, the profits of which are taxable as professional profits, or a contract of employment, which is taxable as employment income.

Existing case law sometimes supports the view that individual contracts are not always contracts of employment.

HMRC's guidance states the following:

Accordingly, performer’s/artist’s earnings will be liable as the profits of a profession in many cases. The sort of engagement where an employment and PAYE may be appropriate, is more likely to be in circumstances where a performer/artist is engaged for a regular salary to perform in a series of different productions over a period of time, in such roles as may be from time to time stipulated by the engager, with a minimum period of notice before termination of the contract. This would apply for example to permanent members of some orchestras and permanent members of an opera, ballet or theatre company. An employment and PAYE would apply in these cases regardless of the receipt by the performer/artist of other income correctly chargeable as profits of a profession.