How Much Does The Jock Tax Really Cost?

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As an athlete, you’re used to navigating complex rules and regulations on the field or court. But have you ever stopped to consider the rules governing your finances, specifically the dreaded jock tax? 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, understanding the ins and outs of jock tax is critical for your financial well-being. So, let’s tackle this topic head-on and answer the burning question on every athlete’s mind: 

How much does jock tax really cost? 

It’s not surprising that many athletes are perplexed by jock tax. The term itself is confusing, and the tax code governing it is notoriously complex. As a result, it’s not uncommon for athletes to overlook this important tax, leaving them with a hefty bill at the end of the year. However, understanding the true cost of jock tax is essential for your financial strategy, both in the present and future. 

We’ll break down the various components of jock tax, including what it is, who it affects, and how it’s calculated. We’ll also look at some common misconceptions surrounding jock tax and offer tips on how athletes can minimize their tax burden. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how jock tax impacts your finances and what steps you can take to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. So, let’s get started! 

What is Jock Tax? 

As an athlete, you’re probably aware of the various taxes you pay, including federal and state income taxes. However, there’s another tax that you may not be as familiar with: jock tax. Jock tax is a tax that’s imposed on athletes, coaches, and other team personnel who earn income while working in a state or locality where they don’t reside. Essentially, it’s an income tax that’s based on the number of days an athlete spends working in a particular state or locality. 

Who Does it Affect? 

Jock tax can impact a variety of sports professionals, including athletes, coaches, trainers, and even broadcasters. If you earn income while working in a state or locality where you don’t reside, you may be subject to jock tax. The amount of tax you owe is typically based on the number of days you work in that state or locality, as well as your total income. 

How is Jock Tax Calculated?  

Jock tax is calculated differently depending on the state or locality in question. In general, however, it’s based on a formula that considers the number of days an athlete spends working in a particular state or locality, as well as their total income. 

For example, let’s say a professional basketball player earns a salary of $10 million for the season and plays 41 regular-season games in California, which has a jock tax rate of 13.3%. For simplicity, we’ll assume the player has no other income or deductions. 

To calculate the player’s jock tax liability, we need to determine the portion of their income that is subject to the tax. This is done by dividing the number of “duty days” spent in California (in this case, 41 regular-season games) by the total number of “duty days” for the season. 

Assuming the player’s team plays 82 regular-season games in total, the portion of their income subject to jock tax would be 50% (41 games / 82 games). So, the player’s jock tax liability for their time spent playing in California would be $665,000 (50% of $10 million x 13.3%). 

Of course, this is a simplified example and in reality, there are many factors that can impact an athlete’s jock tax liability, such as the state’s tax rate, the number of games played in each state, the athlete’s residency status, and any deductions or credits they may be eligible for. 

Common Misconceptions

There are a few common misconceptions about jock tax that can lead athletes to overlook or misunderstand this important tax. One of the most common misconceptions is that jock tax only applies to athletes who play in high-profile sports leagues, such as the NFL or NBA. Jock tax can impact athletes in any sport, as well as coaches, trainers, and other team personnel. 

Another misconception is that jock tax only applies to athletes who earn high incomes. However, even athletes who earn modest incomes can be subject to jock tax if they work in a state or locality where they don’t reside. 

Strategies for Minimizing Jock Tax 

Now that you understand the basics of jock tax, you may be wondering how you can minimize your tax burden.  

  • Plan Your Schedule: As an athlete, you can minimize your jock tax liability by working with coaches, agents, and managers to strategically plan your travel and game schedule to spend less time working in high-tax states.
  • Take Advantage of Deductions: Keep accurate records of your expenses such as travel, equipment, and training costs, so that you can take advantage of these deductions and significantly reduce your overall tax bill.
  • Utilize Tax Credits: As an athlete, you may be eligible for various tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). Make sure to take advantage of these credits to help reduce the amount of tax owed, and in some cases, result in a refund.
  • Work with a Financial Professional: It’s important to work with a financial professional who has experience working with athletes to develop a personalized tax strategy. They can provide guidance on deductions, credits, and other tax-saving opportunities that you may not be aware of, helping you to minimize your jock tax liability and keep more of your hard-earned money 

Don’t Let Jock Tax Catch You Off Guard – Start Planning Today 

As an athlete, you’re used to navigating complex rules and regulations. But don’t let jock tax catch you off guard when it comes to your finances. By understanding the ins and outs of this tax and taking proactive steps to minimize your liability, you can keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket and achieve financial peace of mind. 

Now that you know what jock tax is, who it affects, and how it’s calculated, it’s time to start planning. Take advantage of deductions and credits, plan your schedule to limit your time spent in high jock tax states, and consider working with a financial professional to develop a personalized financial plan and discuss strategies that minimize your taxes as an athlete. 

By starting to plan now, you can avoid surprises come tax season and ensure that you’re making the most of your finances both on and off the field. So, don’t wait – start planning today and take control of your jock tax liability, so that you can focus on what you do best–performing on the field.  


2023-154632 Exp 04/2025

Published:  April 21, 2023