TN’s ‘jock tax’ gets state some negative publicity up north

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — The media in blue-state Pennsylvania is giving red state Tennessee a hard time — because, of all things, having taxes that are too high.

Tennessee’s “jock tax,” of $2,500 applied to professional basketball and hockey players for three games a season, regardless of whether they play for a Tennessee-based team, attracted’s attention this week. is based in Philadelphia, home of the National Hockey Leagues’ Flyers team.

“Nashville became the city NHL players loathed to visit,” the news agency reported.

Flyers’ spokesman Brian Smith did not return our request for comment.

The website reported that even in Philadelphia players are subject to a professional privilege tax of 3.499 percent, on top of the 2.8 percent they pay Pennsylvania. The website adds that the Tennessee tax goes well beyond what Pennsylvania demands.

“The tax rankles NHL and NBA players because, for some players, it means playing that game for free, or even paying to play in some cases,” reported.

“The NBA estimates that 75 players have lost money or earned nothing because of the tax. It is imposed for any player on the active roster, whether he is scratched from the game or not.”

The story then went on to discuss how the tax adversely affects certain Flyers’ players.

JOCK TAX: Tennessee’s ‘jock tax’ is costing the state some positive publicity up north.

As Tennessee Watchdog has already reported, the NHL Player’s Association wants state officials to reimburse players for taxes already paid. The NHLPA says the tax is unfair and unconstitutional and wants to sue the state for reimbursement, according to sports website TSN.

The reimbursement would only apply to those players who paid the tax prior to a new collective bargaining agreement.

Hockey players, specifically those playing for the Nashville Predators, no longer have to pay the $2,500-per-game tax thanks to the agreement, implemented for the 2012-13 season.

That agreement specified that hockey league owners would reimburse players for the tax. Owners — not the players — are now the people losing money because of it.

The players cannot challenge the law at the state level after Dec. 31, due to a three-year statute of limitations after the law took effect in 2010, NHLPA spokesman Sam Reed told Tennessee Watchdog.

TSN reported that the NHLPA is also lobbying for the state’s General Assembly to fully repeal the tax, although even a repeal would not be retroactive. If the law were repealed, players would have to file a refund request for payments made between 2009 and 2012.

Tennessee gets about $3.5 million a year from the tax.

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