The recent article that came out disclosing Clinton Portis’ financial issues concerned me because seeing where he owed money, it was clear to me that he represented the professional athlete who get into financial trouble due to activities such as gambling, not paying taxes and excessive spending.
Professional athletes are going to spend a lot of money on luxury items. But more importantly, as athletes, we often don’t take the issue of paying taxes seriously. Professional athletes have a significant burden when it comes to taxes because we have to pay taxes in every city where we play a game. This is known as the Jock Tax, where professional athletes – who are considered entertainers – are watched closely for how long they are staying in a city to play X amount of games.
The lesson here is to be vigilant and have the right person to make sure that your taxes are being taken care of (state, federal and for every city you play in). This aspect is extremely vital to the life of the professional athlete. How many players do you read about, announcing that they owe X amount of dollars in taxes? Chances are they didn’t take to consideration the Jock Tax.
To me, paying your taxes will actually help you save money later. Buying luxury items like big homes for friends or airplanes (without a pilot) leaves me scratching my head because it doesn’t represent saving for the future. If you pay your taxes on time every year, you will not only save yourself from having to owe later … but you might even be eligible for a refund each year.
If they can, athletes should really consider holding off on so much spending. Keep in mind that there are also injuries and other unforeseen medical issues that come with a playing career. There’s nothing wrong with using your money for things you want … but it’s also nice to have income available for things you’ll actually need.
A playing career doesn’t last long. So if finances can be managed properly, every athlete should be able to sustain for the rest of their lives.