Skip to content

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

Apr 16, 2012, 10:13 AM EST

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. From Steve Ballmer to Michael Jordan: Majority of NBA owners crack Forbes’ billionaires list

    Mar 2, 2015, 11:21 AM EST

    Trail Blazers’ Paul Allen falls to No. 2 among NBA owners

  2. Good news: Chris Bosh released from hospital

    Mar 2, 2015, 8:30 AM EST

    Miami Heat v Atlanta Hawks Getty Images

    He remains out for the rest of this season at least.

  3. Report: Sixers engaged in buyout talks with JaVale McGee

    Mar 1, 2015, 4:30 PM EST

    Indiana Pacers v Philadelphia 76ers Getty Images

    The deadline for McGee to be waived in order to be eligible to join another team for the playoffs is midnight Sunday.

  4. Adam Silver says data may prove Gregg Popovich right in terms of resting multiple players

    Mar 1, 2015, 2:30 PM EST

    SAN ANTONIO SPURS V DALLAS MAVERICKS Getty Images

    Silver talked about the league one day sharing injury data at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference.

  5. Jordan Brand previews 2015 holiday retro lineup (PHOTOS)

    Mar 1, 2015, 11:30 AM EST

    304775-142_Back3Q_native_600

    A look at upcoming retro releases of the Jordan VIII, Jordan 1, Jordan XIV Low, and the Jordan VII.

  6. Markieff Morris rips Suns fans after blowout home loss to Spurs

    Mar 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EST

    Phoenix Suns v Denver Nuggets Getty Images

    Odd timing, only because fans in Phoenix have historically shown up for games against San Antonio and Los Angeles.

  7. Michael Beasley with a monster slam over Hawks’ Mike Muscala (VIDEO)

    Mar 1, 2015, 8:33 AM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat Getty Images

    Beasley throws one down in his second game back with the Heat.

Featured video

Is Derrick Rose the next Penny Hardaway?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. D. Rose (8460)
  2. K. Durant (7547)
  3. R. Westbrook (7114)
  4. D. Howard (6844)
  5. S. Curry (6333)
  1. L. James (6186)
  2. P. George (6106)
  3. A. Davis (5911)
  4. B. Griffin (5389)
  5. B. Beal (5384)