Monday, January 28, 2013

California and the sports star tax migration

It's not only Tiger Woods who has moved from California to avoid its oppressive state income tax. Fellow golfer Phil Mickelson faced a liberal firestorm for admitting he was simply considering leaving the Tarnished State.

From the Wall Street Journal:
In November, voters in California approved a ballot measure raising the top rate on income over $1 million to 13.3% (the increase applies retroactively to last year). According to, Mr. Woods grossed $56.4 million in 2012. As a Floridian, he will keep about $7.5 million that he otherwise would have owed to the state of California. His net tax savings over his 16-year career come to about $100 million. Mr. Mickelson last year earned $60.7 million. Paying the 13.3% California rate, he will owe the state $8 million.

"The day California passed the tax increase, I received three calls from concerned athletes," accountant Steve Piascik, president of Piascik & Associates, told me. His firm is one of the largest representatives of professional athletes in the country.

Mr. Piascik isn't urging his clients to pack their bags just yet, but he says that some are considering moving to reduce their tax liabilities. And several of his clients, whose names he won't disclose, have already ordered their lives around the tax code: They play for teams in California but live elsewhere for tax reasons.

Former Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim right fielder Torii Hunter (who recently signed with the Detroit Tigers) lived in Prosper, Texas, during the baseball off-season. The main reason he "moved to Texas is because it doesn't have state income tax," the Orange County Register last year.
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