Skip to content

Tax time: Just a reminder that Jordan was at heart of “jock tax”

Apr 16, 2012, 10:13 AM EDT

Michael Jordan AP

Send your taxes in — they have to be postmarked (or e-filed) by Tuesday, April 17.

Which is a pain for you and me, but our taxes are not complicated at all compared to those of professional athletes. I’m not saying feel sorry for them — they make a lot of money and hire people to do their taxes for them — but their taxes are a mess.

And it all goes back to Michael Jordan and him celebrating the 1991 NBA championship in California. It was the first of the Bulls six titles, and it was the first of the “jock tax.” Inside Hoops did a great post as a reminder the other day.

As the story goes, soon after the celebrations, parades and excitement of the ’91 Finals, the State of California notified Michael Jordan that he would owe taxes for the days he spent in Los Angeles. In direct response to this new egregious policy, Illinois passed a bill famously known as “Michael Jordan’s Revenge” – imposing income taxes on athletes from California and any other state that imposed a tax on their residents. Many city and state governments followed suit, seizing the opportunity to reach into the pockets of visiting athletes. Today, nearly every state that hosts professional sports teams has enacted their own Jock Tax policy. Even city local taxing authorities such as Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit and Philadelphia established similar rules independent of the state.

The Jock Tax is a politically expedient tax — you are not taxing people who live and vote in your district (or not enough of them to matter) and it’s easy to say “they make millions.” Where you fall on the legitimacy of that tax really says a lot more about where you fall on taxes and tax rates in general, that’s not a discussion we’re going to get into today.

But because of it, athletes’ taxes are complicated. Like Inside Hoops points out, if you are a Chicago native with a home there but you play for the Knicks, you will owe resident taxes in New York and Illinois, plus the “jock tax” in 20 or more other states. Have fun with that form.

And by the way, coaches are included.

Latest Posts
  1. 67RIEFNS No. 7: Warriors’ starting lineup

    Oct 2, 2014, 12:25 AM EDT

    Stephen Curry Stephen Curry

    Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut dominated last season and return for more

  2. Does Serge Ibaka know who Mitch McGary is?

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:25 PM EDT

    2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day 2014 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day

    Thunder forward says he doesn’t (unless he’s joking like Kevin Martin)

  3. D-League considers rule change: Players attempt one free throw on all trips to line

    Oct 1, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Dwight Howard Dwight Howard

    Get fouled on a missed 2-pointer – one free throw worth two points
    Get fouled on a missed 3-pointer – one free throw worth three points

  4. Injury updates: Lakers Ryan Kelly, Jazz’s Carrick Felix both out for a while

    Oct 1, 2014, 6:40 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers Media Day Getty Images

    Two young players trying to prove to new coaches they deserved minutes. This is a real setback for both.

  5. LeBron co-producing children’s show about beginnings of himself, other top athletes

    Oct 1, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT

    LeBron James LeBron James

    The show is on Disney XD. I suppose there are worse things your child could watch.

  6. Phil Jackson compared J.R. Smith to Dennis Rodman. Smith likes that.

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    J.R. Smith AP

    Thing is, Rodman fit the triangle and what Jackson wants to do with a team. Smith…. not so much.

  7. Greg Monroe calls offseason rumors surrounding him ‘lies’

    Oct 1, 2014, 3:01 PM EDT

    Greg Monroe Greg Monroe

    Monroe had a busy offseason in terms of appearances in the NBA’s news cycle.

  8. Rajon Rondo doesn’t rule out opening night return for Celtics

    Oct 1, 2014, 1:41 PM EDT

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Getty Images

    Broken hand is supposed to sideline Rondo for 6-8 weeks.

  9. K.J. McDaniels takes unique approach to rookie contract with Sixers

    Oct 1, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    Second round pick foregoing additional guaranteed dollars in order to bet on himself.

  10. Klay Thompson refutes report he was ‘pissed’ about being included in trade talks for Kevin Love

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:39 AM EDT

    Klay Thompson Klay Thompson

    Reminder not to believe everything you read, especially if it’s attributed to ‘a source.’

  11. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 Preview: Charlotte Hornets

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Charlotte Hornets Media Day Charlotte Hornets Media Day

    The new-look Hornets, with Lance Stephenson in tow, are hoping to build on a playoff run and a promising young core.

  12. Kobe Bryant plans to play in all 8 preseason games for Lakers

    Oct 1, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Lakers v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    Kobe wants to shake the rust off before the games count for real later this month.

Featured video

What players stood out at World Cup?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. L. James (3777)
  2. K. Bryant (3503)
  3. R. Rondo (3295)
  4. R. Allen (2423)
  5. D. Wade (2360)
  1. D. Williams (2302)
  2. N. Noel (2061)
  3. K. Leonard (1992)
  4. M. Smart (1940)
  5. D. Rose (1925)