Phil Mickelson, "Lefty," to those who follow the PGA tour golfer, has pulled back on some of his comments from last Sunday, when he said he was paying, "62, 63 percent" in taxes, and suggested that he might move out of state.
His comments were in reaction to new state income taxes in California. He included other taxes in his full remarks:
"I'm not going to jump the gun and do it right away," the New York Times quoted him as having said. "But there are going to have to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state. And, you know, it doesn't work for me right now. So I'm going to have to make some changes. If you add up all the federal [taxes] and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and state, my tax rate is 62, 63 percent. So, I've got to make some decisions on what to do."
Tiger Woods sympathized, telling Bloomberg, "I moved out of [California] in 1996 for that same reason. I understand what he was, I think, trying to say."
Similar sentiments have been heard recently by other Americans and around the world. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin suggested he might renounced his citizenship last year, and actor Gerard Depardeau has received Russian citizenship to avoid French taxes.
After extensive coverage by business and sports media about the comments, Mickelson has apologized for the remarks saying, "I apologize to those I have upset or insulted and assure you I intend to not let it happen again."
Taxes are high, and California's recent increase from a state income tax of 10.3 percent to 13.3 percent on the top income bracket does seem significant. But do they total 62-63 percent of Mickelson's reported earnings of around $47.8 million last year as the world's 7th highest-paid athlete?
Associated Press sports columnist Tim Dahlberg had a bit of snark about the topic, writing: "It's not always easy being rich, as Phil Mickelson reminded us the other day. There are taxes to pay — apparently lots of them — and the price of a tank of jet fuel seems to go up every day."
Dahlberg's sarcastic advice to Lefty included the most obvious...
"GET A NEW CPA: Mickelson's claim that he will be paying up to 62 percent of his income in taxes this year bears some scrutiny, even with higher federal and state rates for the wealthy. Consider that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney — whose net worth is estimated at $250 million — paid an average of 20.2 percent of his income the past 20 years in taxes, and you have to wonder about the math. Maybe Mickelson needs to take his money out of Five Guys and buy H&R Block instead."
When Tiger Woods left California, he moved to Florida, which has lower state income taxes. If Mickelson moved there, he could also take advantage of playing in the Tavistock Cup. Winnings from the annual golf tournament, held in Orlando, are explicitly exempted from Florida income taxes.