Thanks To Taxes, Minnesota Could Be The Real Winner Of Super Bowl LII
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 02: Jay Ajayi #36 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during Super Bowl LII practice on February 2, 2018 at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Philadelphia Eagles will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII on February 4th. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles will face down reigning Super Bowl champions New England Patriots in a fight for football greatness. But the real winner of the day may be Minnesota.
The game, scheduled for Sunday, February 4, 2018, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is expected to attract tens of thousands of fans. In fact, more than 150,000 visitors are expected to attend Super Bowl-related events, with many staying at least four nights. Those 150,000 visitors will need hotels or other places to stay, as well as restaurants and places to eat. And of course, you can count on fans to spend their cash on merchandise to show off their favorite teams.
All of those extra dollars will certainly help the local economy. But let’s not forget about the accompanying tax boon to the state – and the city of Minneapolis. A special 3% entertainment tax (downloads as a pdf) applies in addition to the 6.875% state sales tax and local sales taxes. In addition, special lodging, restaurant, and liquor taxes may also apply to certain transactions in Minneapolis. Those rates vary but generally, a 2.125% lodging tax applies to accommodations at most hotels and motels within Minneapolis city limits while a 3% liquor tax applies to retail sales of alcoholic beverages, including wine and beer, sold downtown (if the sales happen at Bank Stadium, the rules – and taxes – still largely apply). The result? City coffers are about to get a little bit fatter.
But the revenue stream doesn’t stop there: Like many other states, Minnesota keeps a piece of wages paid to professional athletes as part of its so-called “jock tax.” Despite the name, the jock tax typically applies not only to visiting players but also to coaches and team staff. And the tax is more common than you’d think: Almost every state that has an income tax and a professional sports team boasts a jock tax. Tennessee is a notable exception following a high-profile law change in 2014. Texas, Florida, Washington, and the District of Columbia also do not impose a jock tax (Texas, Florida, and Washington do not have an individual state income tax).
The jock tax isn’t small, either. Thanks to the jock tax, Minnesota will pocket up to a whopping 9.85% rate of pay for visiting teams at the Super Bowl. Its jock tax is among the highest in the country at just under 10%, while California tops the list with a tax in the double digits.
That 9.85% tax rate reflects Minnesota’s top marginal tax rate for individual taxpayers. That rate kicks in when income approaches $261,510 for married taxpayers or $156,900 for singles. Those tax rates apply to the Minnesota jock tax, too: It’s basically just an income tax with more complicated rules.
Rules vary from state to state, but most jock taxes are figured on income, taking into account the number of days spent inside the state performing “income-attributable” work. That’s not just game time and can include days spent on practice and media appearances.
(In some countries, like the UK, the jock tax may be pro-rated by the number of income-related events.)
Tennessee – before that 2014 repeal – was different in that it imposed a flat tax on its athletes: $2,500 per game up to a maximum charge of $7,500 a year, no matter the player’s salary. The controversial Tennessee jock tax also focused on the NHL and NBA, while exempting other professional sports, like the NFL. Revenue generated from the tax went directly to sports stadiums.
Minnesota’s jock tax doesn’t exempt the extras, either: Those Super Bowl bonuses, worth $112,000 each for the winners and $56,000 each for the losers, are subject to jock taxes, as are those Super Bowl rings (the 2015 rings for the New England Patriots allegedly cost $36,500 each).
Of course, this isn’t news to the Patriots: They’ve been there and done that a few times before. But for the Eagles’ young quarterback Carson Wentz, whose base salary is about half that of now starting quarterback Nick Foles, the Super Bowl-sized jock tax is quite a welcome gift to the big game. Wentz, however, might yet get a break: As part of a reciprocity agreement, residents of Michigan or North Dakota may be exempt from paying tax on certain Minnesota income, depending on sourcing and residency. Wentz, who grew up North Dakota, still spends quite a bit of time in his home state and may be a resident for tax purposes. If so, he’d pay tax at North Dakota’s more palatable top marginal rate of 2.9%.
As for the rest of the show that is the Super Bowl? It’s easy to shrug off the extra tax burden when you see how much money some of these athletes get paid but remember that jock taxes aren’t necessarily evenly imposed – and it’s not just the athletes who have to pay up: coaches, trainers, and other staff are subject to the tax, too. Add in layers and layers of complexity – and the requirement that you file taxes in several states – and the result can be a super-sized headache for everyone.