Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Tennessee's Pro Athlete Tax: You'll Find No Sympathy Here

Illustration for article titled Tennessee's Pro Athlete Tax: You'll Find No Sympathy Here

It took Brian Rafalski complaining about Tennessee's tax that targets visiting players before everyone decided that it's a huge injustice. And while it is pretty bizarre, it's certainly not a death knell for Tennessee pro sports.

The basics: as of last summer, every NHL or NBA player who plays a game in the state must pay $2500, up to a maximum of three times per year. This includes the Predators and Grizzlies themselves, who, with the three-game cap, pay $7500. Rafalski and the Red Wings come to Nashville three times this year, therefore also paying $7500.

It's not some kind of tax loophole that officials found to make some more money off of players. It's literally just a tax on pro athletes. And that it's kind of weird, no one is disputing. But as Preds blog On The Forecheck puts it, it's "an arbitrary cash grab from a politically easy target." That's exactly what it is.


Rafalski's problem is that his teammates earning minimum wage — $500,000 this year — end up paying to play in Tennessee. True. But when they're making half a million a year (which is the least they'll ever make in their professional careers), don't ask the general public to shed tears over your $7500.

The Tennessee legislators know this. Rafalski can complain, but there's not going to be any groundswell of popular support for overturning this law. Especially from Tennessee voters — their pro athletes don't pay income taxes.

Oh, and why are the Titans and their opponents exempted? The NFL has rules that would penalize the state if its players had been affected. Showing once again that the NFL is more powerful than the Tenth Amendment.

Does TN Have an Unfair 'Jock Tax'? [AP]
Tennessee's privilege tax draws criticism from Detroit's Brian Rafalski [On The Forecheck]

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