Sometimes it’s not how much you earn but it’s where you earn it.
When Sports Illustrated came up with its Fortune 50 that lists the top paid U.S. athletes, Zack Greinke of the Los Angeles Dodgers is among the top ten income earners. However, after being slapped with 13.3% Californian taxes (state and local) amounting to $3.8 million on top of federal taxes, his income easily slipped to 15th in the list.
Culling data from the Americans for Tax Reform, a taxpayer advocacy group initiated in 1985, which lobbies against income tax increase, here are the top U.S. athletes who owe Uncle Sam (if they haven’t paid yet) big time.
Okay, he’s Venezuelan. But he plays for a U.S. club so we consider him to be a “U.S. athlete.” The Seattle Mariners starting pitcher didn’t land in the top ten U.S. athletes with the highest earnings (he’s in fourteenth place). But after taxes, and with no income tax to pay in Washington, “King Felix” zoomed in to our last spot with a clean pitch of $17.1 million after-tax earnings.
It pays to play in Florida if you ask LeBron and his teammate Dwayne. The Miami Heat point guard doesn’t have to pay state taxes, but his total earnings of $28.6 million from salaries and endorsements is enough to land him in our top ten. And we know he could have earned more had he not agreed to lower his salary to allow the Big Three to come together for the Heat.
Peyton finds his earnings subjected to Denver’s specific clause of charging $5.75 per month on compensation over $500 on top of the state tax. In real terms, that’s $1.4 million for the Denver Broncos quarterback in local taxes alone. He has to pay the federal government $10.2 million, too. If you’re grossing at $31 million yearly, that may be hard to swallow considering almost half of your earnings go to fund the country.
The Chicago Bulls point guard finds his $33.4 million total earnings from salaries and endorsements down to $20.7 million after tax. He has to pay Illinois’ 5% state tax at $1.6 million, while owing Uncle Sam $11 million in federal taxes. Incidentally, Derrick’s jersey is the fifth top selling in NBA.
The tiger is back and continues to rake in cash from winnings and endorsements. Like Floyd and LeBron, he too didn’t have to pay state and local taxes, but he owes the federal government an amount worthy of a sixth place finish in our list. Woods earned his incomes from combined prize monies, endorsements, and appearances.
He earned more than his rival LeBron (Kobe is the highest paid NBA player), but he has to pay California a whopping 13.3% income tax on top of paying federal taxes. That amounts to $6.2 million for the state and $15.4 million to the federal coffers, drastically reducing his income to “just” $25.1 million.
The World Golf Hall of Famer owes his state $5.2 million in taxes and another $13 million to federal taxes. That’s enough to send his total earnings down to $21.2 million last year from combined winnings and endorsements of high-end labels, such as Barclay’s, Rolex, and Callaway.
The 34-year old New Orleans Saints quarterback has a 6% state and local tax liability plus federal taxes that landed him on third place. Drew’s federal income amounts to $15.7 million, while he needs to pay $2.8 million more to the state. He earned $40 million from salaries and winnings on top of $11 million from endorsing top brands like Dove, Vicks, Verizon, and Chase. That’s truly a win despite the Saints being seeded at 6th place in NFL.
The Miami Heat star owes the federal government, but escapes state and local tax because Florida has no income tax. His total earnings of $37.8 million last year was earned from salaries, winnings, and endorsements. Despite earning less than fellow star Kobe, LeBron came on top, thanks to where he lives.
The pound-for-pound, five-division boxer has the highest income tax among the highest paid athletes in 2013, all of which he owes to the federal government. He’s the highest-paid U.S. athlete with total earnings of $60.3 million culled from his fights with Robert Guerrero and Saul Alvarez, on top of pay-for-view revenues.
It really pays to be rich, that is, you have to pay high income taxes. But the rich know how to find loopholes to avoid tax. Hiding your income is not one of them especially if you’re among the top 10 most expensive Nike shoes endorsers (or something like it); the IRS will be close on your heels. Read this infographic to know how some of these celebrities save millions of dollars from taxes.
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