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. Sixers’ K.J. McDaniels with a two-handed rejection, has more preseason blocks than Anthony Davis (VIDEO)

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    2014 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Getty Images

    McDaniels has amassed 14 blocked shots this preseason — more than guys like DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis.

  2. Report: Magic, Nikola Vucevic agree to 4-year contract extension

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:35 PM EDT

    Nets Magic Basketball AP

    Solid big men get overpaid consistently and have for many years. In light of that fact, this deal is just fine.

  3. Daryl Morey sticks up for James Harden’s defense, says YouTube video “unfair”

    Oct 21, 2014, 5:40 PM EDT

    Houston Rockets Media Day Getty Images

    James Harden’s defense isn’t as bad as some people say… but it’s not good.

  4. Report: Nets minority owner puts his majority share of Barclays Center up for sale

    Oct 21, 2014, 4:50 PM EDT

    Brooklyn New Arena AP

    It’s possible, but not likely, that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov will buy the rest of the building.

  5. Report: Bucks join 76ers, Thunder in opposing lottery reform

    Oct 21, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams O.J. Mayo, Michael Carter-Williams

    Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Milwaukee still need five more teams to join their side

  6. Could lottery reform be bad for small market teams? Sam Presti argues yes.

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Grant Gilbert AP

    Watch after the draft lottery next year when a team like the Lakers, Celtics or Knicks jumps way up the board so they can draft a young star and some smaller market owners cry it’s unfair.

  7. LeBron James and his difficult-to-assess super teams

    Oct 21, 2014, 2:07 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day Cleveland Cavaliers Media Day

    The only precedent for LeBron, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving? LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh

  8. Knicks guard Iman Shumpert wears clock hat

    Oct 21, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

    Iman Shumpert is wearing a hat with a clock on it. That is all.

  9. Entire Bulls bench runs to help up Derrick Rose (video)

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT

    Derrick Rose Derrick Rose

    Chicago point guard still clearly has respect of teammates

  10. 67RIEFNS No. 25: Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup

    Oct 21, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Omer Asik,Anthony Davis Omer Asik,Anthony Davis

    New Orleans adds its missing link in Omer Asik

  11. ProBasketballTalk 2014-15 preview: Dallas Mavericks

    Oct 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    'Nowitzki. Der Perfekte Wurf' Premiere In Cologne Getty Images

    They’re not as good as Mark Cuban thinks they are, but they are improved.

  12. What did Cavaliers’ rotation against Chicago tell us about their regular season?

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:44 AM EDT

    Chicago Bulls v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Projecting Cleveland’s win total based on its minute distribution against the Bulls

  13. Report: Wizards close to signing John Lucas III

    Oct 21, 2014, 9:16 AM EDT

    Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

    Celtics waived Lucas during offseason that saw him traded twice

  14. Rajon Rondo could return from injury by regular-season opener

    Oct 21, 2014, 8:36 AM EDT

    Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

    Celtics point guard, coach Brad Stevens leave open possibility of Rondo not missing any games after breaking hand

  15. 67RIEFNS No. 24: Chris Paul, NBA’s most underrated point guard

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Clippers

    Clippers point guard on his own level in post-Magic Johnson NBA

Featured video

What are impacts of NBA's new TV deal?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. B. Beal (4161)
  2. D. Rose (3991)
  3. J. Lin (3919)
  4. N. Noel (3719)
  5. L. James (3702)