TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Golfer Phil Mickelson Takes a Tax Mulligan

Following up on Monday's post, Golfer Phil Mickelson Plans 'Drastic Changes' in Response to His 63% Marginal Tax Rate:  Wall Street Journal editorial, The Mickelson Vote: Lefty Offends the Lefties:

California golfer Phil "Lefty" Mickelson says he will no longer publicly criticize the government for taking most of his paycheck. That's a shame. But even if it's now socially unacceptable for high achievers to suggest they should keep the fruits of their labor, that doesn't mean they will keep supplying that labor....

Mr. Mickelson was beginning to spark a useful conversation about the way that confiscatory tax rates discourage productive effort. But the critics began to emerge on various websites, and, alas, on Monday night the golfer took a rhetorical mulligan. "Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public," Mr. Mickelson said in a statement. "I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend to not let it happen again."

Too bad Lefty will no longer help educate the lefties on the incentive effects of marginal tax rates. But he can still vote with his Gulfstream and take his tour winnings and his endorsement income to a more friendly locale, such as Florida, Nevada or Texas. All three still have no state income tax, which may be one reason Tiger Woods and so many other golfers (including many Europeans) also live in Florida. Expect a continued migration.

Celebrity Tax Lore, Tax | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Golfer Phil Mickelson Takes a Tax Mulligan:


...may be one reason Tiger Woods moved to Florida? It is the reason. Didn't Woods know that taxes are supposed to be a "personal matter?" Well, that leaves the Left in a quandry -- Tiger Woods is its darling in golf, so maybe it's not okay to criticize and threaten him over the same thing that he has actually done rather than just mention. Not PC, you know.

Tiger Woods admits he left California because of high tax rates after rival Phil Mickelson apologizes for saying he may quit West Coast

Tiger Woods said today that the reason he left California in the mid-Nineties was because the state's taxes were too high.

Posted by: Woody | Jan 23, 2013 6:44:35 AM

Mickelson was criticized for being a whiny bitch who also happened to be wrong. It would seem that if the WSJ wants to have a discussion on the "incentive effects of marginal tax rates" it might help to have a spokesman who actually knows what his marginal tax rate is.

And Woody, your Left vs. Right schtick is getting pretty old. In what way is Tiger Woods a "darling" of the "Left"? Personally, I don't know anyone who gives a shit about golf, let alone individual golfers, nor where they live.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jan 23, 2013 10:55:56 AM


Posted by: jmike | Jan 23, 2013 11:08:05 AM

Yes jmike. But what about the endorsement earnings? I'd say that's where his beef lies. Who gets to tax that?

Posted by: Stephen Lawrence | Jan 24, 2013 3:03:51 AM

@ Anonymous

You need to crawl out of your hole.

Is Tiger Woods a Liberal? Is Phil Mickelson a Conservative? - April 10, 2006

... Commentators practically begin to cry at every shot off the fairway or missed Tiger putt. They insult the current crop of formidable golfers by proclaiming Tiger is the greatest ever. They trash former greats such as Ben Hogan, Sam Sneed, and Bobby Jones by placing Tiger Woods on their imaginary pedestal. ... In the end Mickelson was victorious but CBS sports wasn't finished mourning for Tiger. They actual claimed how sad it was Tiger couldn't win this tournament for his dad. ...

Posted by: Woody | Jan 24, 2013 7:26:39 AM

Law of unintended consequences. Increase taxes to collect more revenue and individuals (or Corporations i.e., GE, Apple, Google) will look for ways around the higher taxes whether through lobbying efforts, taking earnings off-shore, moving to lower taxed states or via the underground economy.

The recent "fiscal cliff deal" is a good example, while they raised taxes on many successful individuals including owners of S Corporations that net in the $400K plus range certain groups successfully lobbied for tax benefits: They provided a $222 million credit to the Rum industry, $78 million in write-offs to owners of NASCAR racing tracks, and up to $248 million in tax credits to the film industry.

With regard to the underground economy it can be seen with the cigarette tax. States with a high cigarette tax are seeing cigarettes smuggled in from lower taxed sates and sold. NY is a great exmample. They have one of the highest cigarette taxes in the county and are one of those states experiencing a significant quantity of cigrettes being smuggled in and sold in the underground market. The Tax Foundation has a good article on their web site regarding this matter. Here is the address for the article from the Tax Foundation

Posted by: Michael Beauchemin | Jan 24, 2013 7:28:32 AM

His winnings would be subject to CA tax as well as the state where the money is earned. As a resident of CA he would fill out a GA tax return for any earnings from the Masters. He would then include those same earnings on his CA return and get a credit for GA taxes paid. So in effect he pays the CA rate on 100%.

Posted by: taxman | Jan 24, 2013 11:26:01 AM

He can go live in any state he wants but don't these athletes have to pay taxes in the states where they earn the money. I used to do taxes for a pro baseball player years ago and it was so much fun allocating related expenses.

Posted by: Greg_Herrick | Jan 24, 2013 2:32:51 PM

It amazes me that anyone lives in California. Especially folks with high incomes. In addition to Texas, Florida and Tennessee, Alaska, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming. The worst states are ZNew York, California, Illinois and Minnesota. There are several southern states which do not tax retirement income. If you enjoy being taxed live in a state who loves to confiscate your hard earned income. If your retired there are several froeign countries which are freindly to americans especially retirees. Research your choices carefully, having lived extensively overseas it is not as scary as some people make it out to be. I'll be very conforatbel taking my wealth once I retire and leaving this country. Life in foreign countries is much less stressful than life here. You'll be suprised one you move how many Americans live overseas. If you want to have your retirment savings go further don't be afraid to explore other countries and take your money with you. Unless you feel the neccessity to transfer your wealth to the blood suckers who develop and impose there greed to removwe your money from your control here in our country, stay here. Let me say it this way the worst clients are dems, they complain more about what they have to pay than anyone else. Their philosphy is as long is it id other people who have to pay. Biggest cheats in the business.

Posted by: Michael J Durlak, CPA | Jan 24, 2013 6:16:32 PM

Loyal Democrat Wrote:

"The man [Phil Mickelson] should indeed apologize. For every surplus dollar he has, that is one dollar that was denied to a poor person. Thus, by hoarding so much wealth, the man has in effect stolen from the poor. Why such theft is not grounds for imprisonment just shows how rotten our greedy nation really is.

"Once a person makes enough to pay their basic bills, they have enough money. Their surplus income should then be taken away and applied toward paying for the needs of the people who are not lucky enough to get a high paying job. People cannot achieve true equality so long as some are permitted to have more than others. Our nation was founded upon the principle of equality, yet we still endure inequality in the living standards."

Yep, it's real.

Posted by: Woody | Jan 25, 2013 8:28:06 AM


The article (blogpost?) you link to does't have a thing to do with whether the "Left" embraced Woods.

You're a goddamn idiot.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jan 25, 2013 10:33:56 AM

Phil: I applaud you and totally agree. I am tired of paying money for people who are too lazy to work. I wouldn't feel so bad if my taxes did something good for our state. My family is also looking to move out of state we feel it is our only vote since voting doesn't seem to matter. Such a beautiful place that has gone in the toliet. By the way we think you are an amazing golfer and family man. Happy house hunting!!!

Posted by: Sharon | Jan 26, 2013 3:15:45 PM