Broadway actors protest GOP tax plan
Thursday, November 2, 2017
by Joel Gehrke | Washington Examiner
Broadway actors and performers from around the country are worried that the newly-unveiled House Republican tax plan will threaten their ability to "make ends meet,” according to a labor union representing the workers.
House Republicans have set out to simplify the tax code by lowering rates while eliminating most tax breaks for individual constituencies, which would make it less worthwhile for people to itemize deductions each year. But the Actors’ Equity Association protested the changes that would apply to theater workers, saying they undermine Republican leaders’ pledge to help middle-class workers.
"The White House and leaders in Congress claimed that the tax package would provide relief for middle class taxpayers, but thousands of talented actors and stage managers who earn a middle class living from their work on the stage and who rely on itemized deductions to make ends meet will be hurt if the proposed changes to itemized deductions becomes law,” Sandra Karas, treasurer of Actors’ Equity Association, said in a Thursday statement.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership team maintains that the tax overhaul will save middle-class families about $1,100 a year, on average.
But the actors’ union said in their case, the loss of the deductions swamps the predicted benefits of the reform.
“Actors often incur significant expenses such as transportation costs when they audition or work out of town,” Karas said. “Actors routinely pay for advertising materials like headshots and website hosting. There are many other costs to working on the stage, including commissions to agents ... Eliminating Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions would be devastating to tens of thousands of our members by lowering their incomes and raising their taxes.”
It’s not the first time the theater community has clashed with President Trump and Republican leaders. Members of the cast from the hit musical Hamiltonrebuked Vice President Mike Pence a year ago, when he attended the show during the process of planning the transition into the White House.
"We, sir, we, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us or uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” cast member Brandon Dixon said as Pence left the theater. “But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."