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Travel, Instrument and Other Expenses

What you need to know

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

Ordinary clothes:  As highlighted, this is a grey area, but the official line is, ‘the cost of ordinary everyday clothing is not allowable — even if it is bought specially for business use’.

Footwear:  The same rules as clothes apply.

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, in which case modest expenses may be deducted.

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. This can be quite difficult.

Stationery:  Envelopes, paper, printing costs, letterheads, business cards, pens, pencils, photocopying, accounts, books, etc, and small items of office equipment (files, rubber stamps, etc). Large items of equipment (word processors, desks, chairs and so on) come under Capital Allowances, which are dealt with later on.

Postage:  The Post Office will give you a receipt upon request.

Telephone rental charge:  If half of your calls are for business, claim 50% of the rental charge against your tax. Use this formula to calculate your claim for mobile phones.

Telephone calls:  Unlikely to be allowed 100% so do restrict your claim to the actual or an approximate business percentage.

Instrument insurance and repairs

Cleaning materials for instruments

Instrument replacements:  Strictly speaking, you should get a Capital Allowance for instruments but small, inexpensive ones will usually just be allowed as an expense.

Music:  All types, for example manuscripts, sheet music, and arrangements.

Car parking charges

Theatre tickets  HMRC will allow the cost of theatre and musical tickets for you only.

Advertising:  For example, leaflets or online advertisements for musicians’ work or for second-hand instruments.

Laundry and dry cleaning:  For your stage clothes only.

Publicity material:  For example, badges, photographs, posters, flyers, car stickers. In addition, do not forget to claim the cost of photo sessions.

Hire of…Rehearsal rooms, recording facilities, studios, instruments and equipment.

Commissions:  Paid to agents, managers, etc.

Accountancy fees

Subscriptions to business magazines:  For example, Music Week, Guitarist.

Solicitors’ fees:  For example, for recovering debts and drawing up contracts.

Bad or doubtful debts:  For example, if you agree to do a gig but never get paid for it, after all reasonable attempts at recovery, your profit for that year is reduced by that amount, if you calculated income on an invoice not cash basis.

Bank charges:  Those which have been paid in connection with your business. These are easily calculated if you have a separate bank account.

Interest charged on loans:  For example, for the purchase of equipment. You will need to get a Certificate Of Interest Paid from whomever you have borrowed the cash, to send to the tax authorities.

Small consumable items:  For example, strings, reeds, drumsticks, valve oil, resin.

Contact lenses:  Where required for reading music, although this may be challenged.

Some dental work:  For example, cosmetic or remedial, as with brass or woodwind players. Again, this type of work would be likely to be challenged by the Tax Inspector.

Gifts advertising your services:  For example, pens, diaries, calendars and matches. The cost of each must not exceed £50, otherwise the whole amount will be disallowed.

CD/Cassette/DVD/MP3 player : You may have to convince the Tax Inspector that you need to use these items of equipment ‘for the purpose of trade’ — for example, to learn new pieces of music. However, the Tax Inspector will almost certainly only allow you to claim a part of the cost for business purposes.

CDs/cassettes/DVDs/MP3s: You will probably have to argue with the Tax Inspector over the allowable amount. 

Professional subscriptions:  Annual subscriptions of a professional nature. See MU Subscriptions for more information.

Other inexpensive items of equipment:  For example, music, instrument and microphone stands. Expensive equipment comes under Capital Allowances.