California ‘Jock Tax’ Hammers Pro Football

California ‘Jock Tax’ Hammers Pro Football

After losing a 21-to-26 squeaker to the Green Bay Packers, Coach Bill Belichick demanded his New England Patriots make the ultimate sacrifice and fly directly from Wisconsin to California for a week of practice in preparation for Sunday night’s game against the San Diego Chargers. 

The Patriot players and coaches may have enjoyed the California sun for practice, but they must have been angry about being assessed extra income tax for every hour they were in California under the state’s brutal “Jock Tax.”

California’s personal income tax system consists of ten brackets and a top rate of 13.3%. That rate ranks highest of any state in the nation. But having driven so many successful athletes, such as Tiger Woods, out of the state, California is the most relentless in assessing state and local income taxes on visiting professional athletes and even taxes their airplane while it is on the ground.

The Beatles must have been thinking about California when they wrote the words to “The Tax Man.” The song sums up the not-so-golden state:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street.

If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.

If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat.

If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.

Don’t ask me what I want it for

If you don’t want to pay some more

Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

In 2012, California collected $216.8 million just from taxing out-of-state professional athletes. By bringing the Patriots to California for seven days or 168 hours of work instead of the customary 3 days or 74 hours,Belichick caused the coaching staff, the players, the trainers and the whole traveling organization to have their tax rate go up by as much as 8.1% more than liberal Massachusetts flat state income tax rate of 5.2%.

At a total NFL salary cap for the team alone of $132,441,614, one week in California sun may have cost the Boston players are much as $205,738.07 in additional taxes.  

But the “Jock Tax” doesn’t just pound professional athletes competing in California; it also includes visiting musicians, lawyers, and even touring skateboarders. It also imposes an unrealistic administrative burden by forcing traveling professionals to file multiple state and local income tax returns annually.

The New England Patriots did beat San Diego Chargers 23 to 14 on Sunday night to stretch their record of 10 wins and 3 losses to lead the American Football Conference. Perhaps one of the reasons New England played so well on in the televised game was to get out of California as soon as possible.