Singers, it's the annual Tax Season Conundrum!Op-ed
Forget December 31st as the last day of 2016…. Americans all should know by now that April 18th (thanks to the 15th being a Saturday followed by an observed holiday) is the real Dies Irae. Yes, it’s dreaded tax season, that special time of year when we add Uncle Sam to our list of people who want our coins behind NYC voice teachers charging upwards of $200 for an hour of their time to teach us how to sing effortless tones with perfect technique and emotional prowess to secure that production that oftentimes pays a number too embarrassing to admit how much time we spent learning and rehearsing.
Unless you are fortunate enough to be a star in high demand you don’t have to worry right? WRONG! Even then, you’ve got bills not limited to agent commissions, AGMA fees, health insurance, travel, rent sometimes in multiple locations and those dreaded gigs that don’t line up in the calendar year in a foreign country… even out of state poses challenges depending on your official place of residence.
This time of year - no matter how much I think I’ve prepared for it - always punches me in the gut as a “1099 Eb singing stylish soprano/dress hoarder/property manager/photographer/classical music influencer/everythingist!” I feel overwhelmed by various physical and mental states that I’ve worked in, and the various modes of accepting payments for my various professions that sadly/happily support my need to sing. I’m all for being a hustler. Go after what is yours to do what you want! I love making my own schedule and being the boss of my life! I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything!
Now is the time to make a new year’s resolution…. BE MORE PREPARED FINANCIALLY NEXT YEAR! Make changes that will impact your finances in a more manageable way!
For me, I am going to set up different accounts and payment processors for all of my separate transactions and keep an old-school written record of everything, as technology can and will fail you from time to time. Luckily, I have good records, but it would have been so much easier if I had it in multiple locations to cross check.
Fortuately, we are launching Shoperatic.com first into BETA, and then a full launch when we think we can safely have 9,000 eyes on the site without crashing! This site will be the new home of Opera Diva Dress Collection, and a sidehustle central. It will keep records of sales and purchases so I don’t have to go through Venmo and PayPal purchases for an entire year! I was unaware that as an “influencer” one has to track items that were gifted for monetary value in addition to regular green paper, checks, coins that jingle in your pocket or from electronic payment options such as Venmo, PayPal, Chase Quickpay, Square Cash…. the list goes on and on!
Today, I will finish combing through my bank statements and continuing to deduct where I can before meeting with Joann, my tax guru! Last year, I learned one can only claim losses for 5 consecutive years… use them wisely! When in doubt, hire an expert to help you file; you’ll still have a headache but, it won’t be AS PAINFUL! This NOT the time to relax, fellow freelance/independent contractors.
So, to answer Opera Diva Dress Collection’s very own Lis Stevens’ question: I desire financial freedom, but it comes with knowledge and experience! Our friend Lis provides complimentary confidential financial consultations (excluding tax prep), and group workshops led by industry experts to help artists get organized and prepared - not only for tax season, but for long-term financial freedom.
To make next year less stress-inducing, catch the next session by following Studio LIS on Facebook and on her website. Want more help? Check out Maya Kherani’s tax template, specifically designed to aid singers in their tax struggles.