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Forum Post: Income Taxes Drive Athletes to Florida

Posted 9 years ago on Feb. 29, 2012, 6:38 p.m. EST by Jflynn1964 (-206)
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From Sports Illustrated:

The Jeopardy category of “Strange but True Facts About Minnesota Pro Athletes” just got a little thicker. To the recent revelations that Vikings star quarterback Brett Favre is, ahem, an aspiring photographer, comes evidence that Twins star catcher Joe Mauer isn’t exactly a “hometown hero.”

That’s right, according to real estate tax records, Mauer has been a legal resident of Florida, not Minnesota, since 2006. While some may view this as evidence that Mauer’s well-burnished image is a fraud, I suspect most will conclude just the opposite – that Mauer’s residency status only makes him even more All-American than anyone realized.

You see, Mauer moved his legal residency to Florida for the same reason that LeBron James, Tiger Woods, Shaquille O’Neal, and many other star athletes and celebrities have done so – to benefit from the fact that Florida has no personal income tax.

In fact, fittingly, Mauer bought himself a place on a street named Prosperity Way.

As a haven from high taxes, Florida makes perfect sense for Mauer. It’s the state where the Twins hold spring training every year – and the state where Mauer almost played college football. (After becoming the greatest two-sport athlete in Minnesota prep history, Mauer chose to play pro baseball rather than accept Bobby Bowden’s offer to play quarterback at Florida State University.)

Now, some might be tempted to view Mauer’s Florida residency as a meaningless technicality since Minnesota is his home base during the season. Moreover, some might even say that Florida is the big loser in all of this since the Sunshine State isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity to tax the income of all its well-paid athletes and celebrities.

But don’t tell that to anyone who sells tickets to Cleveland Cavaliers basketball games. Or maybe I should say anyone who used to sell tickets to Cleveland Cavaliers games.

Because Florida’s lack of a personal income tax figured significantly into LeBron James’ decision to leave Cleveland and become a member of the Miami Heat. And James’ decision to join the Heat is already having a stimulative effect on the south Florida economy, spurring increases in the sale of Heat tickets, jerseys, TV advertising, concessions, parking, hotels, restaurants, and sports bars.

Much of that economic activity will generate significant tax revenues for the state of Florida – proving, once again, the counter-intuitive lesson of the Reagan Revolution: Allowing people to keep more of their earnings often leads to greater economic activity and higher tax revenues.

Or as they say in Miami, “A rising LeBron lifts all boats.”

The fact that Florida’s friendly tax policies played a role in LeBron’s decision has not been lost on former Gov. Jeb Bush, who hails from Miami. At a recent luncheon in Cleveland, Gov. Bush good-naturedly needled his Ohio hosts, telling them that if they wanted to keep future NBA greats in their city, they ought to get their Governor to lead an effort to abolish Ohio’s state income tax.

Ohio State football fans just might want to run with Bush’s suggestion. In a recent column, ESPN’s Ivan Maisel noted that the Rust Belt states that once produced the nation’s top high school football recruits (Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, etc.) now take a back seat to states like Florida and Texas. Maisel says this talent shift is largely a reflection of the general population shift from Snow Belt to Sun Belt that has occurred over the last 40 years – a shift which helps to explain why the state of Florida alone has produced more college football national champions since 1980 than the entire Big Ten conference (even if you count Nebraska).

To be sure, the lack of a personal income tax isn’t the only reason – or even the primary reason – for Florida’s population growth over the last half-century. But it is certainly an important factor, as the migrations of LeBron James and Joe Mauer make clear. And in a digital age where more and more people have the discretion to live and work wherever they please, you can bet that Florida’s tax-friendly status will continue to give highly-productive people in high-tax states reason to move to the Sunshine State.

In sum, the newest item in the category of “Strange But True Facts About Minnesota Pro Athletes” is hardly the stuff of scandal. In fact, this newest revelation suggests that when Joe Mauer steps to the plate again this spring, he’ll have “hometown” fans in two different states rooting for him – those in the state of his youth, Minnesota, and those in the state of his prosperity, Florida



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[-] -1 points by foreeverLeft (-264) 9 years ago

Can you imagine the nerve of those bastards wanting to keep the money they earn? Why can't they be kind and sharing and give me some damn money!

[-] 0 points by IronEddie (1) from Endicott, NY 7 years ago

Yeah man, what does LeBron need all that money for? Ohio has a deficit because of people like LeBron.