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How to decide if you are an entertainer, contractor or employee

Provisional tax

All individuals (not companies) who work in the screen production industry on a contract for services basis are required to have withholding tax deducted from the contract payments they receive.

The rate these deductions are to be made from payments to self-employed resident contractors is 20% of the total contract payments you receive.


You're an entertainer for tax purposes if you perform in public or in front of a camera.

This can include radio, television or film performances and appearances with you as a professional or as an amateur, alone or with others, and includes:

  • actors
  • musicians
  • singers
  • dancers
  • comperes
  • other artistes or entertainers.

The tax responsibilities of resident entertainers differ from those of non-resident entertainers.

Self-employed contractor or an employee?

You are most likely to be a contractor if:

  • you are employed on a contract for service basis and do not receive salary or wages
  • your work routines and timeframes are not usually controlled
  • you are not paid sick pay or holiday pay
  • you are able to employ staff or subcontract work
  • you have a written contract for service.

If these do not apply to you, it's likely that you're an employee.

Generally, all workers in the screen production industry who perform work behind the camera are treated as contractor. These can include positions like lighting or sound technicians, administrative or payroll personnel, producers, wardrobe and so on.

The tax responsibilities of self-employed contractors who are New Zealand residents differ from those of non-resident contractors.


What are my tax responsibilities as an entertainer?

As a contractor or employed entertainer, you need to determine who is responsible to deduct tax from your payments. You are an entertainer for tax purposes if you perform in public or in front of a camera. Payments you receive for your entertainment activity will, in most cases, be taxable. You could consider appointing a tax agent, as they can help you work out your taxes and complete your tax returns. The fee you pay to them is tax deductible.

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Last updated: 10 May 2023
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