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Are musical instruments tax deductible?

  • 3 min read
  • Last updated 13 May 2022

As a musician, your instruments are your tools of the trade – but are musical instruments tax deductible if you’re self-employed?  (Yes, unfortunately not even music can escape the world of taxes!)

If you’re self-employed, you’re required to complete a Self Assessment tax return for HMRC each year to declare any earnings made. But one of the benefits of doing your own taxes is that you’re able to claim back some of the costs as expenses. 

As long as you can prove that it’s a business expense, you can pretty much deduct anything. We’ve put together a quick guide on where HMRC stands on musical instruments, and whether they’re eligible for a deduction.

Do HMRC recognise musical instruments as being tax deductible? 

As a self-employed worker, the Tax Acts state that you are entitled to claim expenses incurred ‘wholly and exclusively…for the purpose of trade.’ So rest assured that there are plenty of expenses available for musicians, including those related to instruments.

What qualifies for a tax deduction varies from job to job. For example, as a musician, purchasing a new guitar would be accepted by HMRC as necessary expenditure, but this wouldn’t be the case if you’re a builder trying to do so. 

So are musical instruments tax deductible? In short, yes, as long as you can demonstrate to HMRC that the expenditure was incurred as a direct result of your work as a musician or performer. It covers a variety of musical instruments such as:

  • Guitars
  • Drums
  • Keyboards
  • Bass guitars
  • Violins
  • Trumpets
  • Saxophones
  • And much more!

For further information on what HMRC allows as a deductible expense, you can read their advice here.

Does this include repairs?

Buying yourself a new instrument is one thing, but are repairs covered too? If you have a broken instrument that’s stopping you from performing, then yes. You can claim back expenses on any costs for repairs. As long as you can prove that it was vital to your business, fixing your broken flute or string is an acceptable tax deduction.

Can I claim back expenses on production equipment?

Music can be created through a variety of methods that aren’t just limited to physical instruments. DJs and producers, for instance, use production software and equipment. If you’re a self-employed musician who creates music through technology rather than physical musical instruments, you’ll be glad to hear that you’re still eligible to claim it back as an expense. 

Here are some examples of allowable expenses:

  • Laptops
  • Editing software
  • Mixing boards

What if I’m part of a band? 

As a sole trader, you are solely responsible for completing your own personal Self Assessment tax return. But what if you’re part of a band? Can you still claim tax on your group’s instruments, even if it’s not the one you play? 

The answer depends on whether your band or group is tied together under a contract, label or limited company. If not, then you’ll all count as separate sole traders in the eyes of the HMRC, and you all must file your taxes individually. 

Do you need help calculating how much tax you owe?

Calculating your tax can be confusing, especially if you’re newly self-employed. To help you understand, calculate your tax below with our handy Income Tax Calculator!

Your situation

Outlined number oneOutlined number one
I am
Annual self-employed income
Self-employed expenses
?

Tax and profit

Outlined number two
  • Total earnings
    £50,000
    £1,000 tax-free Trading Allowance
    ?
  • Tax to pay
    £10,994
    £7,286 income tax
    £159 class 2 National Insurance
    £3,549 class 4 National Insurance
  • What you’re left with
    £39,006

How your income tax is calculated

When you’re self-employed, you have to pay your income tax and national insurance contributions yourself in your annual Self Assessment. Our calculator helps you quickly assess how much you owe.

However you may be eligible for a tax refund when:

  1. You already made tax payments for the year but your annual income ended up less than planned
  2. You have done things that qualify for a tax relief (made private pension contributions, given to charity, etc.)

In your case when you earn £50,000:

Income tax breakdown

You pay no income tax on first £12,570 that you make

You pay £7,286 at basic income tax rate (20%) on the next £36,430

National insurance contributions breakdown

No contributions on the first £9,568 that you make

You pay £3,549 in contributions (at 9%) on the next £39,432 that you make

You pay £159 in NI Class 2 contributions

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