Below is my “top ten” list:

  1. They fail to read it.

You’re an actor. You make you living through your craft. So when you book that role and a deal comes your way, your first instinct may be to start pumping your fists in the air and sign whatever document is put in front of you before the hard and fast contract deadline passes. But take a moment to read it. The black and white letters on this thin piece of parchment governs the relationship between your money, your art, and your career. In a business filled with chicanery, the…


You’re an actor, which means you shouldn’t have to spend the majority of your day deciphering the fine print of a contract to understand how it will affect your future like a scholar deciphering the Dead Sea scrolls. From understanding exclusivity provisions with limitations on how often and where you can work to the length of time you are locked into a contract, having a lawyer by your side can benefit not only your long-term success but your peace of mind.

These days, engaging an attorney for contract review is no longer optional. “[Entertainment law] is an amalgam of other…


Picture this. You’ve booked a gig, your agent emails you the contract, and suddenly it hits you: “Should I have a lawyer look it over before I sign it?”

It’s a deceptively simple question, with the devil being in the details. It involves the balancing of several factors. On the one hand, agents understand deals. After all, they negotiate them. On the other hand, a lawyer brings a deeper knowledge of the details and the ability to negotiate these details in such a way as to put the actor on a level playing field with large, and somewhat intimidating production…


Mistakes happen, and taxes are not exempt. From time to time, taxpayers make typos, misinterpret information, or simply misread instructions. When this happens, the IRS generally sends some sort of notice indicating the extent of an issue, alerting the taxpayer as to the problem and proposing an alternate settlement, whether resulting in additional money owed by the taxpayer — or a larger refund from the IRS. When this happens, it is not necessary for taxpayers to file an amended federal return, but the same isn’t always true on the state side. …


As the adage goes, there are only three absolutes in life: birth, death, and taxes. Unless, of course, you cannot afford to pay or for some reason are otherwise resistant to paying the money owed to the IRS — and even this state of being will only ever be temporary.

In general, the Internal Revenue Service is not particularly open to a lack of payment. To this extent, the IRS expects to be paid what it has deemed to be a tax liability, inclusive of any fees or penalties, and that’s the end of that. …


The cost of paying human capital is among the largest burdens for most businesses. For good companies that value quality employees, this is a solid investment — after all, strong workers can make or break a business. For their less-scrupulous peers, however, paying for employees is an obnoxious pain that simply stands in the way of more necessary spending. This disdain for covering employee costs has, over time, developed into a startling and unfortunate trend: employee misclassification.

A W-2 employee costs a company quite a lot. In many jurisdictions, there are requirements related to benefits and paid vacation time, and…


Interest is often seen as a good thing, such as in a bank account that grows steadily over time. However, when it comes to the IRS, interest is anything but positive.

While interest often accrues slowly, every tax practitioner knows that it’s the interest, not the tax burden itself, that can lead to untenable expenses in long-drawn audits, examinations, or other cases. And yet, the inability to abate interest is one of the most commonly believed myths among professionals and lay people alike. In reality, it’s possible to abate tax debt under Code Sections 6404, 7508, and 7508A, providing ample…


Real estate seems like a fun, easy form of passive investment that can be used to pad pockets or build a portfolio. In many ways, this is true — real estate offers plenty of potential for those with economic smarts and a moderate sense of risk. However, when it comes to taxes, the water grows far murkier.

While most business opportunities allow the ability to use losses to offset gains, real estate brings additional issues to light — namely, the ability to offset active income with passive losses. Due to this benefit, it’s not uncommon for hobby investors to attempt…


Al Capone, the American gangster who was convicted of tax evasion, was one of the most notorious mob figures of the twentieth century. He was a captivating figure who infatuated the American public. Ever since his death, Capone’s personality and character have been used in fiction — both on camera and on the stage — as a model for crime lords and criminal masterminds to emulate.

Known by the nickname “Scarface,” Capone attained notoriety during the Prohibition era as the co-founder and boss of the Chicago Outfit. His seven-year reign as crime boss ended at the tender age of 33.


I wish to graciously acknowledge the work of Phillip J. Colasanto, Esq. from the law firm of Agostino & Associates, P.C. whose keen insight and innovative thinking as reflected in his article entitled, “The International Information Reporting Penalties: Is the IRS’s Failure to Embrace a One-Stop Shopping Paradigm Inefficient and Statutorily Deficient?,” has proven invaluable. His guidance offers a practical and sound strategy for tackling these complex issues.

The process of adhering to tax rules and regulations in the United States is anything but easy. With so many deadlines and filing requirements, particularly for those living, working, or housing assets…

Michael DeBlis

Michael is an attorney specializing in entertainment law and a professionally-trained actor. He is a partner in the law firm of DeBlis Law.

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