Peyton Manning eyes a second Super Bowl ring while New Jersey has visions of taxing his salary.
This Sunday, fans of the National Football League (NFL) will not be the only ones paying attention to the players in this year’s Super Bowl. Tax authorities from the State of New Jersey will also be keeping a close eye on those individuals playing in Sunday’s game.
States targeting non-resident athletes to increase tax revenues is nothing new. However, this could be a substantial amount, especially for Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who is scheduled to earn $15 million next year. Including training camp and post-season games, Peyton will be employed for 194 days next season, and six of those days will be spent in New Jersey for this year’s Super Bowl. Using an apportionment factor of 6/194, Manning could have a New Jersey tax liability of $41,142.86 if the tax is assessed on his total annual salary.
NJ ‘Jock Tax’
Considering that each winning player in the Super Bowl receives a $92,000 bonus and each “loser” receives half that amount— or $46,000—$41,142 (a tax rate of almost 50% of the bonus for the winner and almost 100% for the loser) is a substantial tax to pay to the state of New Jersey for playing a single game. Granted, it’s the Super Bowl, but it’s a whopping price to pay when you consider that the state’s maximum income tax rate is 8.95%.
But is New Jersey entitled to assess a tax based on an apportionment factor of 6/194 of Peyton Manning’s entire $15 million annual salary? Or shouldn’t it be limited to taxing just 8.95% of the $92,000 winning bonus—or, alternatively, the $46,000 losing bonus—that he’ll receive for playing in Sunday’s game?
Although every state has the right to tax non-residents on a percentage of the salary they earn within the state’s jurisdiction, New Jersey would appear to be reaching well beyond its constitutional powers if assessed a tax on any portion of Peyton’s $15 million salary. Peyton will not have earned any of that $15 million salary during the 6 days he spent in New Jersey. He isn’t legally entitled to it. All he will have earned is the bonus he receives for playing in the Super Bowl.
This is not a simple ‘jock tax’ scenario in which New Jersey can tax Peyton Manning and his teammates for their participation in Sunday’s game. Under the standard NFL contract, players are paid only during the regular season. With the Broncos and Seahawks final regular season game having being held on December 29th, none of the players in Sunday’s game are legally entitled to receive any compensation other than a bonus.
So now consider that New Jersey only has the right to tax the bonus that Peyton earns in New Jersey for playing in the Super Bowl. The tax is considerably less. In addition, Colorado (Peyton’s home state) will assess an income tax on his total salary and bonus, but it will offer him a tax credit (limited to Colorado’s own tax on the income) for the non-resident taxes he’s paid to other states, including New Jersey. Thus, Peyton Manning and his teammates would pay income taxes that, in total, are considerably more reasonable:
NJ ‘Jock Tax’
Actual NJ Tax Paid
Members of the Seattle Seahawks, who are residents of Washington, are not subject to a state income tax. Thus, they would be liable for the full amount of the NJ “Jock Tax” and would not receive a credit offset against Washington state income taxes.
Over the past week, I have seen many news outlets reporting that New Jersey will look to apportion a percentage of income from all the players in the Super Bowl in order to increase state revenues. Although states do have the right to tax non-residents on income earned within their jurisdictions, I believe that New Jersey will be overstepping its bounds if it assesses a tax on any apportionment of their annual salaries, which were earned in their entirety as of December 29th, 2013. In addition players are not scheduled to receive another payment of their salary until the first regular season game played by their club next fall. If New Jersey taxes anything more than the winning or losing bonuses that the players receive for playing the Super Bowl, I think the state could be opening itself up to a serious challenge.
As the above analysis shows, state tax issues for professional athletes can be confusing and potentially costly. With 20 of the 24 states in which professional athletes play implementing their own version of the ‘jock tax’, it is important to have professional guidance from an individual who specializes in understanding all the unique issues that face professional athletes.
ALAN POGROSZEWSKI is an Assistant Professor of Sports Studies at St. John Fisher College and the President of his own tax consulting business whose clientele include professional athletes performing services on three separate continents. Prior to accepting his position at St. John Fisher College, Mr. Pogroszewski was the Vice President of Business Operations for Sports Consulting Group, a firm that specializes in the representation of professional hockey players. Mr. Pogroszewski received his M.B.A. from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996 and his M.S. in Taxation from St. John Fisher in 2003