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The Denver Broncos took the game 24-10 but the real winners of Super Bowl 50 were California’s pillage people. This is due to the state’s “jock tax” on players and coaches for their “duty days” in the state. As Matthew Artz notes in the San Jose Mercury News, California’s jock tax is highest in the nation at 13.3 percent. That’s why Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, with a salary north of $20 million, will owe about $130,000 for Super Bowl and other games this year in Oakland and Los Angeles. Newton earned $51,000 for the Super Bowl and winning quarterback Payton Manning $102,000.
As Rich Carrie of taxaball.com observes, the jock tax applies to any employee who travels to another state for work. Professional athletes are simply the most recognizable class and as Carrie observes “states are constantly looking for revenue and wealthy individuals who are forced to work in your state but unable to vote for or against your laws are easy targets.” So are successful inventors such as Gilbert Hyatt.
California’s jock tax dates from 1968 when San Diego Charger Dennis Partee disputed the tax on a nonresident. California’s State Board of Equalization ruled that the state could apportion the percentage of Partee’s working days in California to his annual salary “and tax that income accordingly.” In 2013, California collected $229 million from the tax.
Florida and Texas do not deploy a jock tax and tend to be favorites of professional athletes, who command big money because people are willing to pay to watch them. Since their careers usually wrap well before they turn 40, the athletes are trying to retain as much as possible of what they earn. California’s pillage people are out to grab as much as they can from everybody, not just professional athletes. The Board of Equalization, by the way, is the same outfit that in the 1990s sought to tax editorial cartoons as though they were works of art purchased in a gallery. Government greed never sleeps, and ramps up noticeably on Super Bowl Sunday.