July 1, 2003

State and Local Income Taxation of Nonresident Athletes Spreads to Other Professions

Download Special Report No. 123

PLEASE DO NOT CITE—AN UPDATED VERSION OF THIS STUDY IS AVAILABLE. See https://taxfoundation.org/tax-topics/jock-taxes

Special Report No. 123

Executive Summary

When the 2003 Major League Baseball All-Star Game is played July 15 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago (a.k.a. New Comiskey), most people will be paying attention to the players, the game, and the surrounding festivities. But at least a few Illinois state tax officials will have to keep track of the players’ salaries and make sure they fill out the proper individual income tax forms to pay the “jock tax.”

Even though the visiting players, coaches and support staff are just like anyone else whose work brings them to Illinois, the tax law treats them differently. It requires all visiting athletes and other team employees to pay Illinois income taxes for the day of the game, as well as the rest of the weekend if spent in Illinois. The tax is due whether a player sets foot on the field or not. The total take for Illinois on July 15 is estimated to be over $45,000 from the players alone.

Forty-five players will owe jock taxes ranging from Manny Ramirez’s $2,455.03 to Mike MacDougal’s $43. But even these figures understate the “gate” because they don’t count either the support staff for the American and National Leagues or the days before and after game day. The entire All-Star Weekend will be counted as “duty days” by Illinois and therefore subject to Illinois’s jock tax.