Living on $500,000 a Year
October 23, 2009 7:18 AM   Subscribe

But most years were pretty close to $24,000. Despite his high income, he was not able to save or, as he said, “amass capital.” Fitzgerald reported every dollar he had entered in his ledger. He was impeccably honest in his reporting. But Fitzgerald did press tax conventions on some occasions. On his 1924 tax return, he deducted $2,450 as a business expense for a “trip to Europe for the purpose of obtaining material for stories, etc.” The American Scholar examines F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns.
posted by geoff. (13 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Somehow a “mysterious third of our income had vanished into thin air.”

Alcoholism can be surprisingly expensive.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:26 AM on October 23, 2009


I'd buy a coffee table book of Hemingway's bar tabs.
posted by rokusan at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd buy a coffee table book of Hemingway's bar tabs.

I hope you have a sturdy coffee table.
posted by kmz at 7:46 AM on October 23, 2009 [7 favorites]


I'd buy a coffee table book of Hemingway's bar tabs.
Perhaps you sould just construct the coffee table out of bar tabs. It would be one sturdy, large table...
posted by msbutah at 8:01 AM on October 23, 2009


Nathaniel West died in a car accident on his way to F. Scott Fitzgerald's funeral. Nothing to do with this article, really. It's just an odd thing that happened.
posted by rusty at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2009


Until 1937 he kept a ledger—as if he were a grocer—a meticulous record of his earnings from each short story, play, and novel he sold.

Jimmy Gatz and Ben Franklin strike again.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:15 AM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I read Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg, it was really striking the number of times Fitzgerald came to his editor for loans. He was always taking advances on his advances, and seemed never to have enough money. He basically used his publisher as a bank.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:55 AM on October 23, 2009


Here is John Scalzi's take on how this compares to earning a living as a writer today.
posted by cisko at 9:10 AM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


On his 1924 tax return, he deducted $2,450 as a business expense for a “trip to Europe for the purpose of obtaining material for stories, etc.”

Um, well, that is a business expense. So much so, in fact, that grants are regularly awarded for that very purpose.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 AM on October 23, 2009


Um, well, that is a business expense. So much so, in fact, that grants are regularly awarded for that very purpose.

Sure it is nebulous, but the IRS would disagree with you (as they did with Fitzgerald). Just because grants are awarded for it does not mean it is a deductible expense. Going to Kabul to write a story on the Taliban? Sure. Going to the French Riviera to get ideas for a story? Such reasoning could really be applied to any expense and you'd have chaos.
posted by geoff. at 10:43 AM on October 23, 2009


Just because grants are awarded for something ...
posted by geoff. at 10:44 AM on October 23, 2009


Here is John Scalzi's take...

Hm. I have no problem with Fitzgerald's income being 20x the average 'beginner' SF writer publishing in, like, Analog magazine today. Seems about right, actually.

Yes, that's only because he became bold, italic, F-is-for Fucking F. Scott Fitzgerald with some posthumous fame, but that just makes it into one of those (rare) cases that the old invisible hand of the cosmos actually things pretty much correct.
posted by rokusan at 3:48 AM on October 24, 2009


And if you add a verb or two to the last comment, it's almost English!

Silly keyboards. Where's my thoughts-into-wordsifier?
posted by rokusan at 3:00 PM on October 25, 2009


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