Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, introduced a bill Tuesday to collect taxes from professional athletes who earn money in the District, but do not live in the city - a common yet controversial practice across the country. Mr. Evans said the District could gain as much as $5 million a year from the levy.
But, like many measures in the District, it’ll need an assist on Capitol Hill.
The D.C. Home Rule Actof 1973 prohibits the city from imposing a tax on nonresidents. Mr. Evans says there is a quick fix: By adopting his nonbinding “sense of the council” resolution, city lawmakers could ask D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton to introduce a bill that amends the nonresident section of the tax code to say “except for professional athletes.”
Most states tax pro athletes for games at their sporting venues, because they are technically working and earning their keep. The athletes are easy targets for the revenue generator because they are high-earners, everyone knows their salaries and their activities are easy to track.
Most sources trace the jock tax back to a tit-for-tat between California and Illinois in 1991, when the Golden State decided to tax Michael Jordan and company after the Chicago Bulls‘ victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.
“Whether it had that kind of animosity, I don’t know, but there was a more-than-coincidental timing between the two,” said Scott A. Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit tax research group based in Washington.
Illinois instituted the tax as well, and the practice snowballed from there. California has reported more than $100 million in annual revenue from the tax, and a “more modest proposal” in Tennessee projects $1.1 million, according to the bill sponsored by Mr. Evans and Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat.
In opposition, Mr. Hodge said the jock tax singles out a profession, forces people to pay taxes in areas where they have no congressional representation and can trickle down to lower-level athletes. Proponents of the tax, he said, “do not realize this extends to people on these clubs who aren’t making the multimillion-dollar salaries.”
The proposal in the District would also extend to athletes who, like Ovechkin, play for Washington sports franchises but live outside the city’s limits.
A spokesman for Ted Leonsis, owner of the Capitals and the Washington Wizards NBA basketball franchise, declined to comment on the D.C. proposal.
More than half of the Wizards players lived in the District this season, mainly because they were young and single or acquired through in-season trades or signings and needed temporary housing, a team representative said.
Players who live in the District would be exempt from the proposed D.C. jock tax. Nonresident athletes face numerous tax filings already, but “they do have people who do it for them,” Mr. Evans said.
“It’s adding one more to the 26 they’re already doing,” he said.View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Tom Howell Jr. covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
The young drop coverage to avoid higher premiums
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
We’re human: we don’t always think things through, so we accept many ideas that are, well, ideas that are wrong. We also look past certain truths without recognizing them.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
Viewing and reviewing the Los Angeles experimental and classic punk scene with a nod to Rodney's English Disco
Richard Ivory, editor-in-chief of Hip Hop Republicans and HHR at Communities Digital News, turns his interests, and pen, to the people making news today.
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc