Ndamukong Suh refused to give the Detroit Lions a home-team discount so that he could give himself a huge tax discount.
Both the Oakland Raiders and Lions pursued the defensive tackle. But Suh opted to sign with the Miami Dolphins. Whereas California would have grabbed 13.3 percent of Suh’s paycheck, and Michigan a more modest 4.25 percent, the Sunshine State leaves Suh’s money alone. Florida, like NFL host states Washington and Texas, levies no income tax.
The Miami Dolphins gave the sixth-year defensive lineman, who along with Darrelle Revis stands as the top prize in free agency this offseason, a $114 million contract. The team guarantees $60 million of that. The deal becomes official once the new league year starts tomorrow.
Suh would have lost more than $15 million signing a contract of equal value in Oakland and a little less than $5 million signing a contract of equal value in Detroit. Taxes at all levels of government, in fact, would have gobbled up more than half of the 2010 Defensive Rookie of the Year’s income had he signed with Oakland.
“The very high rate of state income tax coupled with the Obama Administration’s imposition of higher federal income tax rates now reach confiscatory levels at 57%,” James Lacy, a Golden State tax attorney and author of Taxifornia: Liberals’ Laboratory to Bankrupt America, tells Breitbart Sports about California. “Factor in the state’s highest state sales tax in the nation and highest gasoline tax at the pump, and still higher than average property taxes (even with Proposition 13), and then add a special per game ‘jock tax’ imposed on out-of-state players, and what you end up with is a very inhospitable tax environment for all professional athletes in California.”
From boxer Manny Pacquiao opting to take one fight a year in China instead of the U.S. for tax reasons to golfer Phil Mickelson vowing “drastic changes” as a result of onerous taxation in the Golden State, athletes increasingly invoke taxes as a determinant in business decisions.
“California’s high taxes are coming more and more into focus as they affect professional athletes,” Lacy notes. “The lower tax rates in states like Florida help explain why an athlete like Phil Michelson has recently listed his Rancho Santa Fe estate in San Diego County for sale.”
It’s unknown whether the Raiders made a firm offer to Suh, though their cap room indicates the ability to have matched the Fins. The Lions offered to make the four-time All Pro the highest paid defensive player in league history. Still, their offer came in $2 million a year short of the $19 million annual deal Miami offered. So, surely factors beyond taxes (and climate) influenced Suh’s decision.
And it’s not as though penalties have much deterred Suh from taking action in the past. The play-through-the-whistle-lineman approaches the half-million-dollar mark in NFL fines after just five years in the league.