Wait, Is My Pilates Class Tax Deductible?

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Photo: iStockPhoto

Like the rest of us, actors and performing artists have been getting a splitting headache trying to figure out what's tax deductible. (Relax, you have till Monday.) Dozens of them have been lining up, in some cases overnight, outside of the Actors' Equity Association headquarters on 46th Street to avail themselves of free tax preparation. There are at least twenty Volunteer Income Tax Assistance sites ($49,000 or less) that will help those with low-to-moderate income file in Manhattan alone. But the AEA is the only one designed for the unique concerns of the stars of stage and screen. According to Sandra Karas — a tax attorney who helped get a provision for performing artists written into the Internal Revenue code — yoga, pilates, and gym memberships are all considered personal expenses and are nondeductible.

For the most part, neither is hair and makeup. Unless medically indicated, write-offs for plastic surgery are likewise not happening.

"I've had a lot of people say, 'But, I was rejuvenated.' And I say, 'You look great, but we're not taking it off.'"

Where is the freelance journalist's/blogger's/unpaid media wench's tax champion? We need to know the deductibility of a yearlong HBO subscription for a few months of True Blood recaps and a "rejuvenating" bar tab.

Artists File In for Help [WSJ]