Every working person pays an income tax (you do not even have to work, you may pay tax on any income, including rent or sale income). This principle applies all around the world, the main difference being how much and to whom the individual pays in tax, particularly if such person works both in the country of his or her residence and in other countries as well.

The tax residence issue is determined based on where the person stays for the most part of the year, i.e. where he or she usually resides. This principle is based on the assumption that the country in which the person usually resides has a better right to collect tax from such person than the country in which the person has an occasional exhibition or performance.

The country of residence is entitled to tax such person’s global income – including income from all other countries. The person earning the income has an unlimited tax liability. At the same time, a country, in which an actress, for example, performs in a theatre production, is only entitled to collect tax on the specific income generated from such performance. The artist has a limited tax liability with respect to the specific taxation of the income at issue.


Some countries have entered into treaties that aim to protect taxpayers against double taxation - the so-called Double Taxation Agreements. The texts of the DTA agreements made between the Czech Republic and other countries can be found on the website of the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic. As a matter of convenience, the agreements are usually executed in the official languages of both countries.

International and national tax legislation alike distinguish between different types of income (employment income, business income, income from capital assets etc.). Only some of those distinctions are relevant for visual and performing artists, but even so, the classification of the different types of income has a large impact on the taxation and division of tax-related rights among countries.


An income of a self-employed (freelance) actress from a performance in a foreign theatre production is taxable in the country where the performance is rendered. But the income from royalties for the recording of the performance is taxable in the country where the actress usually resides.

This example also illustrates the fact that the nature of the activity (theatrical performance abroad and administration of intellectual property rights) is fundamental for the legal classification of the issue at hand.

Regrettably, it would be a bit too optimistic to expect that governments will simplify the rules for the sake of artists alone. But on the other hand, the knowledge of a few basic rules will go a long way in avoiding potential problems.

Visual and performing artists who are members of voluntary associations or even business corporations (such limited liability companies), have additional tax-related obligations:

  • The members must identify their shares in profit and report the amount as income in their individual tax returns.
  • When it comes to corporate entities, such as limited liability companies, the corporate income tax is usually settled from the company’s profit, unless the company itself is exempt from tax (a matter of public policy, for example).

A special set of rules applies to the taxation of income from artistic activities that is generated in two or more countries. Non-residents have only a limited tax liability in such territories, because only the country of their tax residence has the power to tax the global income of its residents (who thus have an unlimited tax liability).


Artists operating on international scale should consider the following issues:

Which country may tax their income if they work in a country other than the country of their residence?

What type of income do they generate by their activities? See the section on income classification for details.

What is the administrative process for collecting the tax? See the section on the process of taxation.


If the stakeholders involved proceed in accordance with OECD Model Tax Convention, a difference is drawn between performing and visual artists. Performing artists are liable to tax at the place where they render the performance, while visual artists are liable to tax in their tax residence. Visual artists who run a studio that satisfies the criteria for a permanent establishment have their income taxed in the tax residence of the permanent establishment. The right to tax the income of artists and athletes is vested in the country, where the performance is rendered, irrespective of whether the artists or the athlete is an employee or a self-employed person. The same course of action is used if the fee (or salary) is paid to the artist’s or athletes’ agent, manager or company.