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Pillage People Hold Lifetime Contract

Wednesday November 26th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 5:40am PST   •  

State-of-California-Franchise-Tax-Board-logo_200It may not be baseball season, but outfielder Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has signed a 13-year contract for $325 million, reportedly the richest deal in the history of sports, at least in North America. That contract reflects the willingness of baseball fans to plunk down their money to see Stanton play. But as Eben Novy-Williams of Bloomberg news observes, there will be less to the contract than meets the eye.

Federal, state, city and payroll taxes will grab $141 million, a full 43.3 percent of the total, nearly half. Giancarlo Stanton will also pay $8.5 million due to the “jock tax” some states levy on visiting professionals. One of those states is California, which shakes down out-of-state athletes for their “duty days” in the Golden State. Taxing out-of-state athletes like residents reportedly brings in some $100 million a year, including $163,000 alone from a three-day trip by the New York Knicks and $106,000 from the 2006 sojourns of Yankee infielder Alex Rodriguez. This confiscatory activity is not limited to athletes.

The California tax also applies to a blues singer from Chicago, a home-care nurse from Nevada, and a novelist from Montana. An out-of-state salesman earning $50,000 a year, about $200 a day, would owe about 9 percent of that, some $18 a day, to California. These types are not as easy to track as Giancarlo Stanton, but all should be clear that the Pillage People are out to grab as much as they can.

As Dan Walters notes in the Sacramento Bee, some years ago Californian Gilbert Hyatt patented a microchip and moved to Nevada, which has no state income tax, before any royalties came in. California’s Franchise Tax Board pursued Hyatt relentlessly and he sued for harassment, winning a judgment of nearly $500 million. Now 76, he charges that California is taking aim at his estate. So the Pillage People are after everybody, for as much as they can grab, and their quest doesn’t end when the taxpayer dies. Government greed is eternal.

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November 2014