I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Yes, it's that time of year again. Most people dread it but I don't mind it at all because it usually means I am in for a nice, fat return. How so, you ask?

I work in film. When I work I make a decent wage. Enough so, the tax man thinks I am in one of the highest brackets and taxes me accordingly. I have to say that it bites in a big way every time I get a cheque and see how much is deducted in taxes, especially when I haven't worked in a while and could use every cent. And therein lies the reason why I get a return - I don't work steadily all twelve months of the year; far from it. I can have anywhere from a few weeks to a few months between productions. So when it comes time to file, this fact, coupled with write-off's that I am permitted, reduces my actual annual income significantly.

About the write-off's: because I work in the entertainment industry, I am permitted to write off every movie I go see, every DVD I purchase, my cable bill, and even live productions I see. I am also permitted to write off a small space in my home as I am required to do a portion of my job there. I can write off equipment I use for the job such as my fax machine (and the phone line I use exclusively for it), my laptop, camera, time calculator, stopwatch, iPhone (with apps I use just for work), chair and small table (both which fold), stationary I purchase, and even meals and parking for work or industry purposes. I can also write off my car, repairs, and fuel to and from location shoots as long as I keep a detailed mileage log. I can write off my union fees and dues from two unions as well as the usual medical bills and prescriptions I pay for myself.

Last year the Canadian tax man decided to take a very close look at those of us in the film industry. Many of us were asked to send in all of our receipts and any other paperwork (like the mileage logs) for closer inspection. I was one of those people. As I gathered my file (I have one for each year with all relevant receipts and paperwork) I went to my car to get my logbook. It was gone!! I had recently sold my car and bought a different one. I thought I had cleaned it out thoroughly but it appeared I had forgotten the log book. There was no way for me to track it down as the car had been sent to the wreckers and was long turned into a small cube of metal. My heart sank. I turned in all that I had to my accountant and told her the bad news. She didn't think it was such a big deal and said the worst that would happen was they'd disallow my car write-offs. She also warned me that the tax man had arbitrarily decided that they were no longer allowing film workers to write off any movies tickets, DVD's or or cable unless a specific director had instructed us to see a specific film in preparation for a specific shoot. It wasn't certain though as they seemed to let some have the write-off and others not. What the...??? I was really worried as to how much of the refund I had already spent (on dental work in Mexico) the tax man would want back.

That was in September and I still have not heard what the verdict is.

Yesterday I went to see my accountant with all of my information for 2011, and told her that I was not claiming any car expenses any more as losing my log book was upsetting to me and I didn't want that to happen again. It's a LOT of effort for me to keep that record - I actually hate doing it; fumbling around in the cold and dark at 5am for the notebook and pen, and again at the end of the day in the dark and I'm blinded by exhaustion. I.Hate.It. So I had decided it wasn't worth it. She wasn't happy to hear it but understood.

Also, due to downsizing in the past 12 months, I had not purchased much in the way of DVD's - almost none (and what I had bought, I bought early in the year before I knew how thoroughly I'd be shedding my possessions), and my cable is included in my rent so did not have much to write off there. Which was just as well considering I still didn't know if I was going to get disallowed for such deductions. I figured I would be getting less than half of what I usually get back except that I had a huge write off due to the dental work I had in Mexico. Not only am I allowed to write of the work itself, but every other expense in getting it done out of the country. That means airfare, lodgings, car rental, meals, even a seat upgrade I purchased because I needed the space to stretch out and sleep on the flight out of LA (I was still on drugs and in a lot of pain) are all deductable.

I was very happy when she told me that I would be getting back MORE than last year. There are a couple of things I need to put that money towards; one is getting the rest of the dental work done and the other is helping my son pay for his upcoming wedding. I had expected to help him out with the two shows I had booked before the event but, as I already wrote about, I lost one of those and it's put me in a bind. Then she gave me the bad news; more than likely the tax man will hang on to the refund until he decides how much he wants back from last year's refund, and who knows how long that is going to take. Thing is, she told me that even if they disallowed every single deduction - which they won't - I would only owe a fraction of what I am getting back this year. But they will either hang on to all of it or none of it.

I am hoping for the latter.

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