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Can pro athletes be subject to taxes in different states?

For an NBA fan, the fun of hope and intrigue does not end with the June draft. This week begins the free agency signing period, where star players and role players alike can take their services to different teams. While this will be the last free agency period before the salary cap changes after next season, there are still a number of story lines to be fulfilled as stars such as Dwyane Wade, LaMarcus Aldridge, DeAndre Jordan and LeBron James test the market.

As free agents sign new contracts, the news will be about how much they will be paid over the next few seasons. However, little, if any attention will be paid to the tax burdens these athletes will be subject to. Indeed, there is speculation about where some free agents will go because four states have no state income tax. (Florida, Texas, Tennessee and Washington). However, many states have laws that impose taxes on out-of-state players

These taxes are calculated based on “duty days,” which are the actual days a visiting player is in a state as part of their job; whether it is for practice, playing games or attending meetings. So while a player may play for a Texas team that has no state income tax, he or she could be subject to taxes when playing games in California, Illinois or New York, for example.

While our clients may not be professional athletes, we represent people who work in states different from where they live. Because of the complicated tax issues that can come about, it is important to have an experienced tax attorney to answer questions. 

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