Trump’s tax bill ‘will greatly reduce musicians’ tax deductions’

November 19, 2017 by norman lebrecht


If you are a musician working in the US, you’ll probably need to read this analysis of what the new tax bill means for you.

It’s by Scott Stratton, financial adviser and trombone player, married to the Dallas Symphony’s principal oboe:


Musicians have been asking me if the new tax bill passed by the House yesterday will have any impact on us. Yes, the legislation, if passed in the Senate, will greatly reduce the ability of professional musicians to deduct many of the expenses we incur in our work.

I should state right at the outset that it is possible that your taxes may be lower under the current proposal. That’s because the plan will increase the standard deduction from $6,350 (single) and $12,700 (married) in 2017 to $12,000 and $24,000 in 2018. As a result, it is believed that instead of 33%, the number of taxpayers who itemize will fall to only 10%. But it also means that if you have itemized deductions below $12,000 (single)/$24,000 (married), you will no longer receive any benefit from those expenses in 2018….

Read on here.

Comments (11)

  1. Steve P says:

    True. But the offset of having a much higher standard deduction – and its lower risk threshold for triggering audits – is worth it in my opinion. As with all tax revisions, there are loopholes that haven’t beem discovered yet, so I suspect this will wind up being a net gain for people who work and want to keep more of their take home pay.

    1. Scotty says:

      And on the upside, you’ll be able to deduct your private jet.

      1. Roger says:

        Mine was repossessed last week.

  2. Roger says:

    The US Tax code, I’m told, is 70,000 pages long. There’s a reason for that: If the middle class could easily, readily see how it’s stacked against them, they’d revolt.
    Anyone supporting this current attempt to further screw the working class is either a Republican politician or a fool.
    When you see Paul Ryan celebrating a “victory” with his house buddies in a photo/video op, you know you’re being screwed.

    Good luck, professional musicians, Republican, Democrat, Independent, alike.

    1. Steve P says:

      Spoken like a good member of the proletariat.

      1. Roger says:

        I’m not only a good member, like 329 million other Americans, I’m also a proud member. You speak like a 1%er. If you’re one of me, on the other hand, I suggest you turn on your Republican Srcrewdar. They tried about 70 times to take away healthcare, they continually attack entitlements and are attempting, yet again, in their Great Tax Bill For The Rich, to sabotage healthcare for millions of your fellow proletarians. A good, proud proletarian wouldn’t stand for that. Good Luck, American Workers!

  3. Greg says:

    I would think for many musicians the doubling of the standard deduction would offset their previous deductions since only a portion of unreimbursed business expenses actually come off the top of what is owed. The current tax code is ridiculously complex and needs to be streamlined. Any change that benefits a majority of tax-paying Americans helps everyone. What’s the difference in a musician being able to write off dry cleaning a tux and someone in the “1%” being allowed to write off jet expenses? Same concept, different tax bracket. Business expenses are business expenses. Even though I am one, I get sick of hearing musicians whine about their financial plight. If you can’t make it, get a higher paying job. Or get an additional job. You are not solving world hunger or curing cancer. There are hundreds of thousands of truly poor folks that wish they had the opportunities we do. The starving artist narrative is tired and is borne out of your choice. In the final analysis classical musicians are entertainers who often rely on the disposable income of the evil “1%” for their livelihood. We all need to see a bigger picture, grasp how the entire system works, and stop perpetuating the victim mentality that is taking over the US.

    1. Roger says:

      The whole thrust of the Trump Tax Bill is to throw a morsel to working Americans so they’ll in turn accept that the 1%ers are getting a windfall.
      That’s how the system works.
      I have no time for the apologetic telling complainers to get another job if they don’t like their current one, or its compensation. Typical.
      How do you suppose it happened that middle class people came to feel so undeserving, self-loathing, and so lacking in self-respect? No one I know deserves more from their toil than I do–or less. I learned that attitude on my own and no one is stripping it from me with a bogus, lop-sided, cheating tax bill.

      1. Greg says:

        Class envy is so unbecoming. I don’t begrudge the 1% or what they have. Most of them have what they have because of hard work and achievement in an area/field that allows for that gain. Good for them. It’s a good thing there are some highly successful people in this country for they are the ones who stir the drink that is our national economy. They provide good or services that benefit us all. Their business entities create jobs for many. They are not to blame for what I pay in taxes and I don’t feel they should be punished or extorted because are successful. If the government wasn’t so consumed with buying votes and perpetuating the welfare state with entitlements and handouts we would all be in better shape.

        “How do you suppose it happened that middle class people came to feel so undeserving, self-loathing, and so lacking in self-respect? No one I know deserves more from their toil than I do–or less. I learned that attitude on my own and no one is stripping it from me with a bogus, lop-sided, cheating tax bill.”

        Who says the middle class feel this way? Perhaps you are just projecting? If anything, perhaps the middle class should be pissed about the fact that they have to subsidize people who scam the welfare system, people who collect unemployment or disability illegally, and illegals who receive government benefits. No one deserves more or less for their toil than you? Just because you learned socialism on your own doesn’t mean it is correct. I suspect many people deserve more than you do and I suspect many people warrant less. Income equality is a fallacy. Ask Cuba. Ask China. Ask North Korea. Ask Venezuela.

        1. Roger says:

          Not talking about income equality; the subject here is an unfair tax code about to become more so.

          I’m glad to “subsidize” those needing help. Why is it that you and your ilk have no objection to picking up the slack created by subsidies, tax breaks and loopholes, credits, exemptions, etc. to the rich yet complain endlessly when a single parent gets a few bucks to feed her/his kids?

          You should run for the state legislature in ’18 or ’20 because Republicans are going to need all the candidates they can find after they’re done screwing voters (of both parties) over.

  4. Joanne Pencak says:

    The personal exemptions are eliminated. The standard deduction “doubling” is a sham.

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