Money, Honey: Elvis Presley and Taxes

Just pity all those millionaires, they never can relax
Because they’re always worryin’ about their income tax
Why waste time on high financin’?
I’d rather spend it on good romancin’
What if my pockets are empty as can be?
Who needs money? Not me.
– “Who Needs Money?” Elvis Presley

In so many ways, Elvis Presley was like everyone else. He loved his family, he enjoyed his career, he had fun with his friends, he loved music and he gave back to his community.

But he was also the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, and he lived like rock ‘n’ roll royalty, with his own airplanes, gorgeous cars, stunning stage wear and, of course, his own castle, Graceland.

Here in the United States, tax day is April 18 this year. And while Elvis was the king, he still had to pay his taxes, like his fellow Americans. But his receipts and deductions were definitely a little more unusual than that of the average Joe. Besides, how many of us can claim couture jumpsuits as office attire?

But before he was a star, he was like a lot of other blue collar workers in Memphis. Check out his very first tax return from 1953:

taxform1

In 1953, Elvis’ refund was for a whopping $5.10. In 2016 dollars, that equals $45.18.

Just four years later, though, Elvis had purchased Graceland. Elvis wasted no time turning the mansion into a home fit for a rock star. Here’s one invoice for the gates of Graceland:

gates5

Of course, as Elvis’ career blossomed, so did his bank account – and the amount he paid to Uncle Sam. For example, in 1958, Elvis’ income was $1,001,727.89, with an income tax of about $360,000. In 1961, his income was $902,610 from movies and $775,078 from music publishing and recording.

In today’s money, Elvis’ 1958 income equals about $8,342,735, and his income tax equals $2,998,204. His income from films in 1961 would be about $7,164,088 in today’s money, and his income from music would equal about $6,151,856 in 2016.

In 1962, Elvis made $902,000 from movies and $775,000 from music and recording, and he paid out more than $800,000 in income taxes. In 2016 dollars, that’s $7,111,518 in income from films, $6,110,229 in income from music and $6,307,333 paid in taxes.

check1

Of course, Elvis had expenses like no on else.

Check out the invoice below for his gorgeous jumpsuits. In 1973, Elvis made $3,860,000 from personal appearances, $4,214,000 from music and recording and $143,000 from his films. He paid $2,959,000 in income taxes.

In today’s money, that’s $21,482,035 from personal appearances, $23,452,149 from music and $795,837 from movies, and $16,467,705 paid in taxes. Elvis would’ve paid $28,883.88 for those same jumpsuits in 2016.

jumpsuits1

Elvis definitely enjoyed a few shopping sprees, too.

In just one week in July 1975, he spent $85,680 in jewelry from his jeweler, Lowell Hays, who was on tour with him at the time. In 2016 dollars, that equals about $390,471.

It wasn’t all for himself; many of the pieces he purchased were gifts. Here’s one of the receipts from that week:

jewelry1

Fascinated by Elvis’ life?
Honestly, who isn’t?

If you want to learn more about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, visit Graceland. You’ll tour his mansion and airplanes, and you can also take a stroll through the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum. See you at Graceland!


10 Comments

  1. Doris A. Brown

    He was truly a very generous human being. I’ve never seen a star do the things that he has done for people. Dolly Parton donates so much, but Elvis donated and would give anything away if the mood struck him. There will never be another human being like him. God Bless him.

  2. Love seeing this stuff :) thank you

  3. He lived a life of comfort and exragavience for a pour boy from poverty tho it came with a price his live. he truly was sont by god above and he still is the greatest entertainer the will ever walk the face of this earth in my life time LONG LIVE THE KING OT ENTERTAINMENT.

  4. Dolores

    He was not a tax evader, an example that should be followed by all the people.

  5. Judy Lindley

    so amazing for Graceland to share these artifacts with Elvis’ fans. As dedicated Elvis Fan I am very great full to get to see these articles.
    Judy Hunt-Lindley

  6. Sarah Smith

    ’75 receipt items …some have a good story behind them!The ’73 & ’75 was wonderful years for E.

  7. Elvis was very generous with everybody.He never let his fame go to his head. He had a great upbringing by his parents.Long live the King.

  8. Bonnie Carpenter

    Love Elvis so much. Thank you for sharing this part of his life. Makes me feel closer to him.

  9. Clara Stanley

    My husband wrote and recorded a song in memory of Elvis. We visited. His uncle was there. Elvis was a great man. His wife and child want his memory to live on. We as fans are grateful you are remembering Elvis in a positive way.

    Thank You.
    Clara Stanley

  10. Janet Davies

    Elvis was always generous with his money, he always made sure people were happy,

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