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February 9 2016

Cam Newton’s Effective Tax Rate for California: A Whooping 172 Percent

Patrice J. Lee

Cam Newton didn’t win Sunday’s Superbowl. He’s devastated no doubt, but the loss will sting even more because of how much he is on the hook for in taxes in California.

Cam Newton, Panthers players, and the Broncos stepped off their plans last week in California to face what’s known as the “Jock Tax, a state income tax levied on anyone from outside the state who conducts business there. So you don’t have to live in the state to pay it taxes.

The jock tax isn’t just for the players. Anyone travelling with the team, including coaches, trainers, referees, and even broadcasters, has to pony up to the California coffers just for being there.

Apparently, 21 of the 25 states with professional sports teams impose the Jock Tax, but California’s tax is the highest – not surprisingly – at 13.3 percent. In 2013, the state reportedly collected more than $229 million in income taxes from athletes. Hosting this year’s Super Bowl would just be the cherry on top of a big bowl of revenue.

The 26-year-old star quarterback will owe the state of California roughly $137,000 in taxes. Newton is not a Cali resident or employed there, but for the days he spent in California engaging in such activities as practice, media days, and game time, he racks up a tax bill that’s twice the median household income in the U.S.

Two years ago Peyton Manning paid New Jersey $47,000 on the $46,000 in Super Bowl earnings he made. If the math doesn’t add up, it’s because he paid more than he earned.

Forbes crunched the numbers before the big game:

So Manning paid a whopping 102% tax to New Jersey on his $46,000 consolation prize.

Skip ahead two years and now Manning is back in the Super Bowl against the highly-talented and highly-compensated Cam Newton, who signed a five-year, $103.8 million contract extension in June. Newton has already earned $58,800 so far this year for week 17 of the 2015 season and $71,000 in playoff bonuses…

If the Panthers win the Super Bowl, Newton will earn another $102,000 in playoff bonuses, but if they lose he will only net another $51,000…

Win on Sunday, and Newton will pay California a total of $138,250 in taxes in 2016. Lose, and he will pay $137,900 based on an income reduction of $51,000.

To determine what Newton will pay California on his Super Bowl winnings alone, we will ignore the four 2016 season duty days and pretend they are being played elsewhere. In looking at the seven days Newton will spend in California this week for Super Bowl 50, he will pay the state $88,000 on $102,000 of income should the Panthers be victorious or $87, 800 on $51,000 should they lose.

The result: Newton will pay California 86.3% of his Super Bowl earnings if the Panthers win. Losing means his effective tax rate will be a whopping 172.2%. Oh yeah, he will also pay the IRS 40.5% on his earnings.

Oh and let’s not forget that Uncle Sam will get a 40.5 percent cut of Newton’s hard-earned earnings as well.

If that kind of tax bill dashes your dreams of being a pro athlete, it’s not surprising but certainly disappointing.

Why do we penalize hard work, excellence, and success? We have a tax system that authorizes government bureaucrats to take more from those who contribute more value to society. The philosophy articulated so well by President Obama, is that “you didn’t build it.”

Taxes like the jock tax and high tax brackets can create a disincentive to work for more earnings. Luckily for Newton, Manning and other players as well as wealthy business people, actors, and musicians, they can hire accountants who understand tax law to arrange their finances in ways that save them from taxes, but regular Americans who don’t have nearly the same resources see their bonuses for good performance or raises eaten up by taxes.

Peyton Manning and the Bronco’s may have been the big winners in Sunday’s game, but the biggest winner of all was California for all it racked in from both teams, the media, and visitors who spent big on the Big Game.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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