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Tips of the trade: Accounting and money

Tip Published Sunday 22 July 2018

We were lucky enough to have Lynda Parsons from Entertainment Accounting come and speak to members at a free seminar this month, and while we can't possibly capture all the detailed and in-depth information she was able to impart, we do have a few key tips and pieces of advice for Lynda that we can share here.

The first question you need to ask yourself: are you running a business, or is this a hobby at the moment (and you’re hoping one day it may become a business for you)?

If you’re running a business, good records will always be needed (and even if it’s a hobby right now, good records might be useful in the future).

Some key tips:

  • Keep your bank statements, and have a separate bank account for your business income and expenses
  • Receipts for all expenses over $50
  • Always supply invoices for all income and keep a copy of these invoices for your own records
  • Is your gross income over $60,000? If yes, you will need to register for GST purposes.
  • Try not to withdraw cash to pay for business expenses, as you need receipts to show how your money has been spent.
  • Request that 20% Withholding Tax is deducted where possible on all performance income, especially if the payer is registered as an Employer.
  • Keep a log book for your motor vehicle for 12 weeks to establish business use.
  • Keep an asset register of musical equipment, studio, and home office equipment. Date purchased, cost of goods, and description of asset.
  • With Hire Purchase or Leasing of assets, keep a copy of the contract and signed agreement
  • Insure business assets
  • Keep your APRA remittance statements.
  • If you sign to a publisher or record company, keep a copy of the contract and, make sure you have a clear understanding of what you have agreed to.

Practical information:

Don’t set up a company until it is necessary, as you can trade as a Sole Trader or Partnership.

Why? A company is more expensive to run, and there are more compliance costs. But they have their place and when set up correctly can be helpful once you have reached a certain point in your career.

If you’re in a band, you made need a partnership agreement which covers issues such as assets, royalty splits, and what happens when someone leaves the band.

Don’t rush into a management agreement – make sure you can work together first! And make sure your lawyer is different from your manager’s lawyer.

Make sure you have an entertainment lawyer check over any publishing and record deals before you sign them.

And when in doubt, consult an accountant.

Want to know about what expenses you can claim?

Want to find out more about registering for GST?

Want to find out about how Kiwisaver can work even though you're self-employed?

Some notes on touring in Australia from Lynda Parsons:

If a band from anywhere in the world tours Australia they should be applying for an ABN (Australian Business Number) and a TFN (Tax File Number) otherwise the promoter/booking agent is required to deduct withholding tax at the top rate, which can be up to 45% without an ABN. With an ABN it’s normally 30% withholding tax.

It they are wanting to reduce this amount of tax then they should be applying for a reduction in tax with the Australia Taxation Office depending on the expenses for Australia before they complete the tour and receive a payout.

As they will need to declare the Australian income in NZ they can then claim the tax deducted as a credit, they will not receive it back but if paying tax in NZ, it will reduce the amount payable.

If they want to apply for a refund in Australia they will need to apply for an ABN/TFN and lodge a tax return over there.

If you would like to speak with Lynda, or have further questions, please head over to, and make an appointment.