This guide will help you to go through the Finnish taxation form 15.

The information of this guide is a translation made by Globe Art Point of the content released by The Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland (Teme)  on “Ohje freelancer-jäsenille veroilmoitusta 2017 varten Lomake 15” and reproduced with their permission*.

*The Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland (Teme) has not participated in the translation of the documents nor verified their accuracy. Therefore, the Artists’ Association shall not have any responsibility for the correctness or accuracy of the translations. 

Check the pre-completed tax return carefully, and complete and correct any incomplete or faulty information. The pre-completed tax return includes, for example, any fees paid to a trade union. The Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland (Teme) declares the fee information to the tax authorities and considers as deductions any fees paid before the end of the year.

 

Form 15 is used for declaring income which has not been pre-completed in the return. Use of the form will improve the chances of being able to deduct expenses incurred while carrying out work in an artistic profession from the individual’s taxation. Return the form along with Section One (Ilmoitusosa) of the pre-completed tax return.

 

Form 15 can be accessed via:

– the tax authority website: www.vero.fi

– the URL: https://www.vero.fi/contentassets/86acf29bcd3f43bcb964e109afde4721/3061v17.pdf

– Googling Form 15 on the income of artists and freelancers.

 

When you use an appendix form for a tax return, please note:

 

Receipts and documents will not be appended to the tax return. The tax authorities will request them if needed. A taxpayer must store any relevant receipts and documents for a duration of six years following the end of the tax year. No documents need to be stored for information which is correctly declared in the pre-completed tax return.

 

If required, be prepared to clarify any payment of expenses related to the production of income.

 

Calculate your income and expenses in accordance with the cash principle. This means that any income is considered as income for the year in which it is paid, registered in an account, or in which it is otherwise available for withdrawal. Expenses are expenditure for the year in which they are paid.

 

  1. Income from artist or freelancer activities

 

Section 3.1

 

In Section 3.1, you declare any income from independent artist activity or teaching work in the field received during the year, and for which no income tax has been withheld. Any copyright remuneration does not need to be declared. Income for which income tax has been withheld is not declared here.

Mark the income total also under “Other earned income” in the pre-completed tax return.

 

Sections 3.2 and 3.3

 

Scholarships and grants awarded by a public body are completely tax-exempt, if the scholarship or grant has been awarded for studies or artistic or scientific activities by a municipality, the state, another public body or the Nordic Council. Recognition awards for artistic, scientific or public utility activities are also completely exempt from taxes.

Public bodies include:

– the state

– regional arts councils

– municipalities

– federations of municipalities

– the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church

– the Bank of Finland

– the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela)

– the Arts Council of Finland

– the Academy of Finland

– the Finnish Work Environment Fund

 

Grants and scholarships awarded by foundations and other private entities are tax-exempt when the total amount of grants awarded by public and private bodies remains under the amount of the annual state artist grant. If the amount of grants and equivalent income exceeds the amount of the state artist grant, the income in excess of the grant is considered as taxable income.

 

  1. Expenses

 

Section 4

 

From the earned wage income, the tax authorities automatically make a deduction for expenses for the production of income, which has been set at 750 euros since 2017. Other expenses for the production of income are only accepted insofar as their amount exceeds the relevant approved deduction for expenses for the production of income. You should, however, mark the expenses in full in the form.

 

With regard to planning your taxation, it is good to schedule all purchases for the same calendar year, if possible. It is important to clarify how the deduction relates to the income for the relevant year.

 

Example 1

“I bought the book x.x. to obtain information on the period for which I designed costumes during my employment at Theatre Y.”

 

Expenses that the employer has already remunerated cannot be deducted. Such expenses include travel expenses. In addition, you cannot deduct expenses for which you have received a grant.

 

Section 4.1

 

The requirement for a deduction for workspace is that the taxpayer actually has a workspace at home or elsewhere that he or she uses for the purpose of generating income. Only mark the share of the tenants’/residents’ association charge or rent which is allocated to the share of the workspace as a deduction. The basis for the deduction is the actual expenses presented by the taxpayer, such as the costs for rent, utilities, cleaning or repairs incurred by the arrangement and use of a workspace.

 

If defining the actual workspace costs proves to be difficult due to the workspace only being used part-time for generating income, for example, you can then, instead of the actual costs, deduct what is known as a workspace deduction.

 

In accordance with the instruction on unification issued by the tax authorities, the following amounts are awarded as a deduction for workspace in 2017, unless the taxpayer presents documentation proving that the actual expenses are higher:

 

Use of workspace Amount of deduction
The employer has not provided an office or workspace at the employer’s premises, and the taxpayer uses the home office for the purpose of generating his or her main income (e.g. a freelance journalist). EUR 840
The employer has arranged a workspace at the employer’s premises, but the taxpayer uses the home office for remote work for more than 50% of the total number of workdays. EUR 840
The employer has arranged an office or workspace at the employer’s premises, but the taxpayer uses the home office for remote work for up to 50% of the total number of workdays. EUR 420
The taxpayer uses a workspace at home as a part-time space for generating his or her main earned income or permanent or significant additional income (such as a teacher). EUR 420
The taxpayer uses the workspace at home for generating his or her temporary additional income. EUR 210
Both spouses use the workspace at home on a part-time basis for generating main earned income or permanent additional income. EUR 630 for both spouses in total

 

Section 4.2

 

Under Section 4.2, you can declare deductions for office supplies and mailing expenses, materials required for work, such as photographs, photocopies and artist’s supplies, and other equivalent work-related expenses.

 

Section 4.3

 

Telephone expenses and other data communications expenses related to the production of earned income are declared in Section 4.3. If you have divided expenses between private use and production of earned income, keep a calculation of the total expenses and the basis of division of the costs.

 

Section 4.4

 

Expenses deductible under Section 4.4 include costs for such professional literature and magazines that are necessary in order to maintain the taxpayer’s professional competence and to perform his or her work. Items related to all-round education, such as dictionaries, are usually not deductible.

 

Other expenses, such as the costs of DVD and CD recordings, are also marked under Section 4.4. If required, the taxpayer must be able to specify the work or production to which they are related.

 

Trade union fees and unemployment fund membership fees are deducted in addition to the deduction for expenses for the production of income, and they are only declared on the main tax return form. Under Section 4.4, mark the membership fees that are not declared on the pre-completed tax return and that are allocated to income from freelancer activities. Membership fees of other organisations are deductible as general expenses for the production of income, if the membership is necessary in order to carry out the taxpayer’s work tasks, such as obtaining a trade magazine published by such an organisation.

 

Section 4.5

 

Commuting costs for travelling between home and the workplace are declared on the main form. The deduction of these expenses is restricted by the own liability share determined by the tax authorities and the maximum amount of compensation.

 

In Section 4.5, you can declare travel expenses for commutes that the taxpayer performs temporarily to reach special work locations related to work tasks. The dates, destinations, travelled kilometres and vehicles utilised for the travel must be noted down and saved.

 

A freelancer can deduct the extra living expenses incurred during a work trip when the employer has not reimbursed them. Deductible expenses for a work-related trip include costs such as accommodation costs, extra meal costs, and costs related to communicating with family at home. If actual costs have been incurred but their amount cannot be determined, the amount of the deduction will be estimated.

 

Example 2

A photographer travels to Joensuu to the production location of a production company based in Helsinki. The expenses are deductible costs for the production of income, and no maximum amount restriction, own liability or requirement to use the most affordable transportation will be applied to such expenses.

 

When a freelancer visits another city and, on the basis of this, receives allowance and remuneration of travel expenses, they should be tax exempt in accordance with instructions from the Trade Union for Theatre and Media Finland (Teme). However, there are some conflicting interpretations on this from the tax authorities. In some preliminary rulings, the tax authorities have determined such payments as being taxable. Thus, they are considered a part of the wage income and will therefore also accumulate the taxpayer’s pension, but the travelling taxpayer will end up with less net income. All expenses should be specified in detail and they should be demanded to be deducted as expenses for the production of income. Try to specify the income item at which the expenses are directed, such as “wages for the work task in Joensuu and travelling costs to Joensuu”.

 

Naturally, no deductions can be made for tax-exempt compensations.

 

A study trip can also be considered deductible when the trip is necessary for the taxpayer in order to perform existing work or a task, or to maintain one’s professional competence. The dates, destinations, travelled kilometres, and vehicles utilised for the travel must be noted down and saved. Also save the itineraries for study trips, as well as the reasons for the purpose of the trip.

 

Section 4.7

 

In Section 4.7, mark the purchase costs of expenses for the production of income allocated to other artist and freelancer activities that have a maximum period of use of three years, or the purchase costs of which are insignificant. Such costs include, for example, the purchase costs of machines and equipment which have a service life of less than three years, and any repair costs of tools.

 

Clothing expenses for clothes required for performances or other work are also declared in Section 4.7. Work clothes can be deductible when the clothes cannot be worn elsewhere than in taking care of work tasks. Another reason for deductions is that work clothing wears faster than normal clothing. Expenses for wigs, hair styling and make-up are also declared in this section.

 

Deductible expenses include, for example, tickets to the theatre, cinema or opera, and various losses, such as compensation for damages. Justified entertainment expenses considered as expenses for the production of income related to freelancer activities are also declared in Section 4.7. Entertainment expenses are considered to include expenses for normal hospitality and acts of courtesy aimed towards customers, business acquaintances and other persons for the purpose of creating new business relationships, maintaining or improving existing relationships, or for otherwise promoting operations.

 

Any training expenses are deductible if the training is required in order to maintain professional skills and competence. If, on the other hand, the training leads to a new profession or is by nature a basic or continuation course, the incurred costs cannot be considered to be deductible.

The Income Tax Act does not include a list of deductible expenses for the production of income. This means that varied types of purchases can be deducted, if it can be specified that the purchase in question is necessary for work purposes. It is important to try to allocate the deduction to a specific income item.

 

Compile detailed specifications on the expenses and deduction justifications, and save these with other required documents. For living expenses, often a specification is required for the total costs for the year and the basis for dividing such costs into private and professional use.

 

  1. Allocation of expenses

 

Unless there is another basis for division, expenses can be divided relative to the income. If a taxpayer has applied and received a grant for a specific purpose, the expenses related to this purpose cannot be deducted from other income.

 

  1. Depreciation of machines and equipment used in the artist or freelancer activities

 

Purchases of ordinary appliances present in every household, such as a television, radio and a CD player, are usually specified as living expenses. In order to be able to deduct such expenses, one must be able to demonstrate that the device is used for work activities.

 

If the probable service life of a machine or equipment is less than three years, the purchase price will be deducted in full in the taxation of the year of purchase, if the taxpayer so requests. If so desired, a purchase cost or expenditure residue of approximately 1,000 euros can be demanded to be deducted at once. The limit can vary slightly between different regions.

 

If the purchase price of a piece of equipment is more than 1,000 euros, it will be deducted in the taxation as depreciations performed during consecutive years. In the first year, 25% of the purchase price will be deducted in the taxation, and during the following years, the deduction will be 25% of the remaining amount (please refer to Example 3).

 

In the form, mark the equipment’s name, purchase year and the amount of the purchase cost still undeducted, i.e. the undepreciated balance at the beginning of the tax year. Then calculate the depreciation and the amount of the undepreciated balance to be transferred to the following year.

 

Computer

 

A taxpayer can acquire a computer with peripheral devices (monitor, loudspeaker, printer, scanner, etc.) and deduct the incurred costs as expenses for the production of income, if he or she uses the computer for work purposes. For the deduction, the taxpayer must indicate his or her profession and provide a clarification as to how much the computer is used in work activities.  Facts such as how much the computer is used for private activities and whether there are several computers in the family are meaningful.

 

The percentual shares of a computer’s purchase cost indicated below can be considered as the computer’s deduction amount:

 

No evidence of using the computer for work purposes. 0%
There is evidence of using the computer for work purposes. 50%
There is evidence of using the computer primarily for work purposes. The computer has been used for earning significant additional income. 100%

 

If the computer’s purchase price is a maximum of 1,000 euros, the deductible share of the purchase cost can be deducted all at once. If the computer’s purchase cost has been deducted as annual depreciations, the undepreciated purchase cost can be deducted in full in the tax year when the amount of the undepreciated purchase cost at the beginning of the tax year is a maximum of 1,000 euros.

 

Example 3

A computer with a value of 2,000 euros is acquired for work purposes. In the first year, the tax deduction is 500 euros (25%). The next year, 25% of the remaining value of 1,500 euros is deducted, i.e. 375 euros. In the third year, the remaining value is 1,125 euros, of which 25% (281.25 euros) will again be deducted. In the fourth year, the remaining value of 843.75 euros can be deducted in full.

 

Remember to transfer the total amount of depreciations in Section 4.6 of the form.

 

After completing all the information, remember to date and sign the form.

 

 

 

 

 

Instruction checked on 5 March 2018.

Source: Vero.fi.