An Industrial and Economic Profile of the Actor

by James O’Regan, Ph.D., (ACTRA) 

Surviving Revenue Canada 
or How the GST Changed My Life 

Endorsements Table of Contents

Have you ever received a letter from Canada Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA), marked Open in the Presence of Smelling Salts or a Good Stiff Whiskey? I did in 1995. I suppose I should have expected it. I had recently moved from 12 years in Toronto to downtown New Brunswick. The folks at, then, Revenue Canada, who were used to my filings, no longer handled them. I was faced with a new team who had no idea about our industry. And so…

They wanted to audit me.  They wanted receipts and a profile of my industry. Fortunately I was able to survive reading this letter without smelling salts because I had been prepping for an audit ever since the introduction of the GST (Goods and Services Tax - a value-added Canadian tax).

They wanted receipts? No problem. Profile of our industry? Hmmmm…. I called ACTRA, "Say RevCan wants an industrial profile for actors in Canada. Got one? Huh? Whaddyamean, no?" I called Fraternal, Equity, even the Canadian Conference of the Arts.  No profile existed.  So I wrote one. 

The profile helped me to survive my audit.  It allowed me to deduct a much broader and deeper field of expenses - all thanks to thinking about the GST.  Pre-GST, I wrote off 15%-ish of my expenses and only a small proportion of my expense categories, post-GST: 100% right across the board - thanks Revenue Canada, because filling out the GST forms made me think about what I was selling.

As an industry, actors are unlike any other.  It is in our interest to help others in government and industry to understand the economics of what we do.  My profile can do that. 

My profile stopped my audit dead in it tracks - no face to face interview, no further correspondence with the auditors - seven months later I received my typical income tax assessment. 

If you’ve been audited and/or if you’ve been forced into bankruptcy by the CCRA, like one member I know, let your accountant see this profile.  Chances are you’ll get back whatever you paid.

I can guarantee that this profile helped me with my audit and my taxes.  With the CCRA, I won’t guarantee anything else.  Would you?  But you do have a choice: Keep your eyes out for the mailman and have plenty of smelling salts nearby or use my profile.

History of the Profile:

  1. Used to defend a Revenue Canada (CCRA) audit of James O'Regan, 1995

  2. Offered to ACTRA members at $50/copy, 1997

  3. Offered to ACTRA as a premium for members and especially new members - rejected by ACTRA on grounds of publishers' liability, 1998

  4. Offered to ACTRA members at $100/copy, 1999

  5. Offered free to ACTRA members in the face of increasing CCRA audits of ACTRA members, especially in British Columbia, 2000

  6. Available as an eDocument at Powell Books, 2003