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Volume 23 No. 24
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NBPA closes the books on Tennessee tax

Just in time for the holidays, 810 current and former NBA players will receive checks totaling $5.4 million.

National Basketball Players Association officials were mailing checks last week to players representing at least partial refunds for money they paid under the so-called Tennessee jock tax.

It is the last chapter involving the tax, which started in 2009 after the Tennessee Legislature passed a bill in which NBA and NHL players playing in the state paid a flat tax of $2,500 a game with a maximum of $7,500 a year.

The NBA players who will receive checks include current and former players who played for the Memphis Grizzlies between 2009 and 2016.

The $5.4 million divided by 810 equals $6,666.67, but NBA players who played for the Grizzlies frequently will get as much as $30,000, said Gary Kohlman, NBPA general counsel.

“The checks are going out ASAP,” Kohlman said last week. “We are literally stuffing envelopes today.”

The tax was unusual in many ways, including that only NHL and NBA players and no other professional athletes, including NFL players, were required to pay it. Additionally, the taxes that were collected from the players went to the owners of the Grizzlies and the Nashville Predators, rather than to the state.

The NBPA and the NHL Players Association both lobbied to have the law repealed and the Legislature voted to repeal it in 2014. The NHL players stopped paying it immediately in 2014, but the tax stayed in effect longer for NBA players because the Grizzlies opposed the repeal.

The NHLPA reached a settlement with the state in 2014 in which players received about half of what they paid in taxes. The NBPA, however, sued the state, and NBPA players voted to settle the lawsuit last year.

As part of the settlement, players received back more than half of what they paid in taxes overall and 100 percent of what they paid for the 2015-16 season.