SBD/April 8, 2014/Sports in Society

Tennessee Legislature Votes To Eliminate "Jock Tax" For NHL, NBA Players

The Tennessee legislature yesterday "abolished the special tax professional hockey and basketball players pay when they play" in the state, according to Nate Rau of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. NHL players will see the "so-called jock tax" end once it is signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. However, NBA players will see it "continue for two more years." Athletes under the current law "pay $2,500 per game when they play in Tennessee up to $7,500" annually. The revenue has "ultimately been forwarded to the owners" of the Predators and Grizzlies "for the purpose of bringing more events to their arenas." The NHL and NHLPA -- in the most recent update to their CBA -- "agreed team owners would pay the tax for their players." Predators Holdings LLC pays the maximum $7,500 for its own players, but has "continued to benefit from the taxes paid by visiting players" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/8). In N.Y., Mary Pilon notes "many states" charge athletes a tax when they visit for games, but Tennessee was "the only state" that charged a flat rate. Athletes "at the lower end of professional pay scales were in some cases actually losing money over all when they played in Tennessee." Grizzlies execs "had defended the arrangement, saying that money generated by the tax helped their arena ... draw top concert performers and stay competitive with rival arenas." The Predators "had supported a jock tax, but changed course and backed a repeal" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/8).

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