Saturday, January 26, 2013

Phil Needs A Mulligan

Phil Mickelson, a man who makes millions playing golf, is upset that he may have to pay more in taxes.
"If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63 percent," he said. "So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do."
First of all, lets get what is obviously wrong out of the way - Mickelson doesn't pay 63 percent of his income back in taxes. I think all that sun on those beautiful golf courses must be burning Phil's brain.

Sadly, the article goes along with this 63% fantasy. This is a common mistake in tax reporting - differentiating tax incidence (the amount of total earnings paid in taxes) versus marginal tax rate (the portion of earned income and the tax rate which applies to that portion). If one is going to write an article about some millionaire bitching about the taxes he/she pays, at least do the leg-work and find the actual tax rate.

"There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now," he said. "So I'm going to have to make some changes."
Yes, this poor man. He'll have to wait on that 9th home and 6th BMW.

We're in the second worst depression in the history of the country and Mickelson has the nerve to complain about not being as big of a millionaire? People are out of work and losing their homes, but Mickelson can't get that 5,000 square foot addition on his 4th home and that's equivalent and just as important.

According to Wikipedia, "Although ranked second on the 'all-time money list' of tournament prize money won, Mickelson earns far more from endorsements than from prize money. According to one estimate of 2011 earnings (comprising salary, winnings, bonuses, endorsements and appearances) Mickelson was then the second-highest paid athlete in the United States, earning an income of over $62 million, $53 million of which came from endorsements."

As Len Burman (Professor of Public Affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University) commented, "Please stop whining and give thanks for being able to earn a fabulous living playing a game and selling golf clubs (even after tax). 99.999% of people would never have that option, no matter how hard they worked on their swing." [Burman also estimates, "In net, Mickelson will owe about 52% of his marginal* earning in federal and state taxes."]

Phil's agent and public relations people must have told him what a douche his comments make him look like. He's begun the apology tour.

*Marginal tax rate: tax payers are divided into tax brackets or ranges, which determine which rate taxable income is taxed at. As income increases, earnings will be taxed at a higher rate than the first dollar earned.

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