ACTRA urges Ottawa pass tax changes to help creators

ACTRA national president Ferne Downey (pictured) says the bill would allow for multi-year "income averaging," which would benefit self-employed creators who have wildly fluctuating incomes.

Canada’s actors’ association is pushing federal MPs and senators to pass a bill that it says would help self-employed artists to have greater income stability and tax advantages.

Bill C-427, the Reflecting the Realities of Canadian Artists Act, was introduced by Tyrone Benskin, the member of parliament for the riding of  Jeanne-Le Ber, and is up for second debate in the Commons on Nov. 1.

Benskin is also a former ACTRA national vice-president.

If it passes, ACTRA says the changes it would help bring about would allow self-employed artistic creators to average their incomes over a period of five years and exempt the first $10,000 of residual and/or royalty earnings in a tax year from being taxed.

In order for a bill to pass into law, it needs to go through three readings by legislative representatives, than be approved in votes by both the Commons and the senate. It then needs royal accent to come into force, albeit that step is simply a formality.

In a statement Friday, ACTRA noted that artists do not have the full, automatic access to programs such as Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan that full-time employees do. They also face a tax system that is geared towards ‘employees’ and doesn’t address the unique needs of self-employed creative entrepreneurs.

Ferne Downey, ACTRA national president, said in a statement: “We have good years, and not so good years – income averaging will even things out and ensure our tax burden is predictable and fair.”

ACTRA is also pushing the federal government to sign and ratify the Beijing Treaty, concluded by the United Nation’s World Intellectual Property Organization in Beijing back in June. The treaty extends to audio-visual performers the same standing as audio performers in international law, giving them IP rights to make a living from their work and protect their image.

Without endorsement by Ottawa, its protections can’t apply to Canadian performers.