Phil Mickelson Wins Tournaments, Loses 61% of Winnings to Taxes


Hey Phil, ya ever try sucking instead?
Credit: zzazazz / Foter / CC BY-NC

In what ESPN described as "a most improbable win…completed in stunning, awe-inspiring fashion at treacherous Muirfield," Phil Mickelson last week won the British Open. (The week before, he won the Scottish Open.)  These hard-fought battles earned the golfer a total of £1,445,000, or roughly $2,167,500. Mickelson gets to keep less than half that.

Forbes provides a breakdown. First, he'll forfeit over 44% to the United Kingdom, despite spending all of two weeks there. 

Then, U.S. tax collectors get in on the fun. Although Mickelson can avoid being double-taxed by writing off his gains as a foreign tax credit, he'll pay in other ways. Mickelson is still subject to a self-employment tax and a Medicare surtax. To the state of California, he's obligated to pay another 13.3% of his earnings. In total, one of the world's most successful golfer's is losing 61% of the money he made from the tournaments.

USA Today points out that if the governments gouging him of his gains are not bad enough, "that's before Mickelson pays his caddie, pays for his hotel and expenses, pays his agent, etc," and speculated that when all is through, Mickelson will be left with a meager 30% of his original winnings.

According to Forbes, some professional athletes avoid the United Kingdom like a sand trap:

The UK is one of few countries that collects taxes on endorsement income for non-resident athletes that compete in Britain (the US also does). The rule has kept track star Usain Bolt from competing in Great Britain since 2009, outside of the 2012 Summer Olympics when the tax was suspended as a condition for hosting the Games. Spain's Rafael Nadal has also allowed UK tax policy to dictate his tennis playing schedule.

With a pay of $48.7 million, salary/winnings of $4.7 million, and endorsements adding up to an additional $44 million, Mickelson is ranked by Forbes as the 7th highest paid athlete in the world. Lefty caught flack earlier this year for complaining about the government siphoning off so much of his money. CNBC dismissed his claim made in January that his total tax rate added up to about 60%. 

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  1. Poll taxes are the only way to go. One man, one vote, one TAX.

    1. So no taxes for people who don’t vote? Double win!

      1. Libertarianism smiles.

    2. Pay to come (to the voting booth).

      1. That’s been banned in DC.

        1. No big deal. We got that PMA.

    3. I’d settle for a literacy test at this point.

    4. Poll taxes are pretty darn easy to avoid… simply don’t vote. If its your only tax, you’re going to have a serious free-rider problem.

      I’d link taxes to voting in the reverse direction. You pay your regular taxes each year (income, property, whatever), and when election day rolls around, your vote gets multiplied by the total number of tax dollars you’ve paid to that level of government since the last election.

      That way taxation = representation.

      1. If its your only tax, you’re going to have a serious free-rider problem.

        No, because the people paying the taxes are electing the representatives who spend those taxes.

        I think we’d see a serious decline in entitlement spending. Why would I pay for programs I don’t support?

        1. “No, because the people paying the taxes are electing the representatives who spend those taxes.”

          What taxes? Voter turnout plummeted, remember? Hardly any poll taxes were collected.

          I think we’d see a serious decline in entitlement spending. Why would I pay for programs I don’t support?

          You’d certainly see a serious decline in all spending, because you’d have virtually no revenue to spend. Why should I pay for any programs when I can simply not pay the poll tax and go about my business?

          1. This is a feature, not a bug.

      2. and a direct ratio of taxes spent to representation received would give corporations and the richy richersons as much if not more influence than they have through lobbying. While a non-linear relationship would just be a perpetuation of “tax the rich harder”, from a reversed perspective.

        I’m forced to agree with Gill.

        1. “and a direct ratio of taxes spent to representation received would give corporations and the richy richersons as much if not more influence than they have through lobbying.”

          First, corporations don’t vote. (I wouldn’t bother taxing them either, but that’s a different argument).

          And second, I’m perfectly fine with letting people vote based on how much tax they pay. You’d probably see a whole lot less lobbying and fewer tax loopholes.

      3. The only “free rider” problem is the government taking a free ride on the money they steal from us.

    5. I think we should let people buy votes.

      1 vote = $1
      2 votes = $10
      3 votes = $100

      9 votes = $100000000
      10 vites = $1000000000

      Then we can use that revenue to fund the government.

    6. Marshall Gill, you are the man.

  2. CNBC dismissed his claim made in January that his total tax rate added up to about 60%.

    Fuck the entire NBC network, including the Golf Channel.

    1. CNBC dismissed Larry Kudlow, too. So they can’t be all bad.

    2. Put this item up on Balloon Juice and you will have 100 commenters complaining that he was allowed to keep $845,000.

      1. That 66 you posted in the final round to win the Open Championship? You didn’t shoot that.

  3. CNBC dismissed his claim made in January that his total tax rate added up to about 60%.

    Well, of course they did. You can’t let it be known how much the government steals from people! That might interfere with stealing more!

  4. P.S. I really wish Phil hadn’t backed away from his statement about ridiculous tax rates. You can couch the terminology a bit better, but the fact of the matter is that the government is STEALING from people, and the supposed recipients of said money aren’t even better off. The more people start talking about the regressive tax system we have, the more people can start thinking about it. Draw attention to it, don’t run from it!

    1. I lost any sympathy for him when he apologized.

    2. I was also disappoint when he walke3d that statement back, but I get it. His endorsement money (big part of his earnings) is all conditioned on him being as unobjectionable guy as possible. Whatever money he lost through the Prop 30 tax would’ve paled in comparison to losing a big endorsement for fear of being associated with someone who wants to kill teachers and watch poor kids starve (or something like that).

      1. Exactly. I’m not going to castigate Mickelson for failing to publicly immolate himself. If the rubes piss themselves in the fervor of their statist dementia, it’s not his or anyone’s job to disabuse them.

        1. But I’ll respect him even more if he quietly relocates to Florida ( a la Tiger). I imagine he won’t for now since his kids are in school though.

          1. Screw the kids! He’ll doubtlessly foot their expensive tuition someday. Daddy’s saving money in taxes to pay for your lib arts degrees, kids.

            1. What he would save in income taxes by moving out of CA would pay for the most expensive private school around for all his kids, plus private tutors, plus a personal masseuse for each, with a several million bucks left over. For anyone to make major coin — and stay in CA longer than six months minus one day each year — one has to be either a masochist or not very sharp.

              1. I’ve heard from very prominent leftists, all of whom I’m assured are very intellectual because they hold all the right opinions, that taxes have no effect on incentives except for carbon and cigarette taxes.

            2. Screw the kids!

              Tiger probably would, at least the daughters, once they grow up.

        2. The thing is he might have kept the endorsements anyway.

          Look at what Tiger did and he still has sponsors.

          Not apologizing about complaining about taxes would have cost him nothing. In fact publicly telling the concern trolls to fuck off might have increased his value as a spokesman.

      2. I have a hard time believing that he would have lost any endorsement deals if he had followed through and moved out of California. It would have been a one-day story, and not damaging to his brand, really.

        The target audience here is golfers, right? Who probably tend to skew more conservative/anti-tax than most.

        Nah, he pussed out, and it just cost him major coin. His call. I wonder if he still thinks it was worth the quarter-million check he just wrote the state of California.

    3. I remember that. What a huge pussy.

      1. I remember that. What a huge rich pussy.


    4. Phil didn’t build those golf courses! Government did!

    5. He backed away from the statements because they were factually incorrect, not because he was shamed into doing it. He just added the highest marginal tax rates together and said that was his tax rate. That’s not how our tax system works.

  5. In total, one of the world’s most successful golfer’s is losing 61% of the money he made from the tournaments.

    Unwittingly, the problem has been identified.

    Welcome to modern western civilization. Someone who generates a combination of wealth, opportunity, jobs, economic activity is considered “part of the problem”.

    Aside: My ex-wife, as lovely a person as she is, thinks the Capitol Hill Street car will be ‘cool’, even while admitting:

    It won’t alleviate a single traffic problem
    it’s eliminating hundreds of parking spaces along a busy street.
    But it must be built because it’s ‘cool’.

    I’ll give building ‘cool’ things a pass if their effect on the community is either positive or at minimum, neutral. But when you actually break the working neighborhood to build them, Paul’s libertarian Kangaroo Court and Firing Squad goes into action.

    1. They’re thinking of putting another streetcar in in Capitol Hill?!? Where the fuck is it going to go, down Broadway? Or better yet, Olive? Or Pike? Yeah, that won’t cause any problems.

      These people are abject morons.

      1. It’ll all be funded through oathkeeper adverts

        1. ARRGGHHHH

          There is so much fucking construction in this city right now affecting the shit out of traffic, and they’re going to fuck up Broadway too? I already have to deal with all the SLU bullshit, and they closed two blocks on Bell to put in some kind of park or some other bullshit. It’s beyond ridiculous. Fuck you, Paul Allen, fuck you Amazon, fuck you UW, and more than anything fuck you city council and the mayor.

          1. I’m hoping that McGinn goes the way of Nickels:

            1. Vote for mayor who talks biggest game about justice in East Timor and Urban Farming/Global Warming.
            2. Realize that a mayor of a mid-sized American city can do little about these global issues.
            3. Begin to notice that streets are in disrepair and traffic still sucks.
            4. Throw out incumbent mayor.
            5. Go to step one.

      2. Fortunately nobody lives in Seattle, so nobody cares.

        1. It’s just me, a bust of Caesar, and a bunch of albino mutants. I think I’ll go get me a new Mustang and go watch Woodstock for the hundredth time.

        2. ^THIS

        3. What’re you talking about? I hardly think that over half a million Critical Mass activists qualifies as ‘nobody’.

          1. I assume you’re being facetious. That’s the epitome of “nobody”.

            1. I am never facetious when it comes to my precious bike activists.

              There’s nothing that inspires progress like a guy in a Cinzano Spandex flipping off Cagers as he runs red lights while screaming “Go Vegan!”.

    2. Obviously, if he gets to keep any of it beyond bare subsistence, then the Handicappers General on both sides of the Atlantic aren’t doing their jobs.

    3. You’ve trained Kangaroos to fire weapons? Sweet.

      1. No, Kangaroos are the judges, I haven’t found volunteers to fire the weapons yet. George Zimmerman won’t return my calls.

  6. Let me tell you how it will be,
    There’s one for you, nineteen for me,
    ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
    Should five per cent appear too small,
    Be thankful I don’t take it all.
    ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    (If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
    (If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
    (If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
    (If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.

    ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
    Don’t ask me what I want it for
    (Haha! Mister Wilson!)
    If you don’t want to pay some more
    (Haha! Mister Heath!),
    ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.

    Now my advice for those who die, (Taxman!)
    Declare the pennies on your eyes, (Taxman!)
    ‘Cause I’m the Taxman,
    Yeah, I’m the Taxman.
    And you’re working for no-one but me,

    1. I also like the tax man’s appearance in Sunny Afternoon.

      I mean for the music reference, not for the tax man taking all my dough and leaving me in my stately home.

  7. Why does someone need that much money, anyway? Huh? A couple million should be sufficient. Use the rest to feed starving children because, as we all know, there are so many starving children. Everywhere you look there are starving children. Why, just outside my window here there are starving children in rags shuffling from trash can to trash can. Why do libertarians hate the children?

    1. You’re the monster here, leaving perfectly good unemployed monocle polishers sitting around like that. Why, with some fattening up they could probably also serve as litter-bearers, carrying you around town for others to admire and envy.

    2. We’ve already established that no one needs to save over 3 million bucks for retirement, so just take all savings over that amount for the common good.

  8. I’m betting Ryan Braun gets a tax refund next year.

    1. Is it officially acceptable to refer to Braun as a “dirty Jew” now?

      1. Self-hating still works.

        1. Just cuz I live in Southern California does not a Jew make me. But damn I could go for a nice bagel with cream cheese and lox.

          1. Probably the only above-average food I had in New York that wasn’t a modest piece of the most delectable steak was a bagel with chive spread from some place in the upper east side staffed with the most inarticulate white folk I’ve ever regarded.

            1. Was it East Side Bagel? I used to get a toasted onion bagel with lox, chive cream cheese, and red onion all the time. Damn that was good.

              1. Tbh, I can’t recall. I walked around the city in a daze for the first several hours I was there, fulfilling all of the stereotypes of midwestern bumpkins. At some point I took refuge in a bagel place and caffeinated myself.

                1. Did you look up at the buildings?!

                  Aren’t they SOOO tall?!

                  1. Sooooo tall! Even taller when you’re craning your neck from the center of the sidewalk trying to photograph the tops!

                    1. New Yorkers love when you do that. Even more than they love when you stop in the middle of the sidewalk to text.

                      Did you see the Big Apple?! I asked a resident for directions to it, and he told me I had already seen it! I don’t know where it was though…

              2. 2nd Ave. Deli was my favorite on 2nd and 10th. Someone told me it is gone now, I haven’t been to the city in almost 6 years.

                1. It moved to midtown. And Katz’s is still the best pastrami.

                  1. We had plans to go there, but posting my friend’s entire apartment by mail sidetracked us.

                  2. My favorite part about Katz’s is there is a little picture of Katz and a black gentleman who is at least 350 lbs. The caption?

                    “Dr. Dre”.


                    1. @neoliberal kochtopus: it might be the original Dr. Dre from Yo! MTV Raps, not the west coast version.

                    2. Sudden,

                      Thank you for solving a mystery that has plagued me for years.

                  3. It moved to midtown. And Katz’s is still the best pastrami.

                    Isn’t that like being the most honest politician? It’s a low bar, since all pastrami is awful.

                2. Page me when we start talking L.A. delis.

                  1. I’m headed to LA in November. Talk to me about LA delis.

                  2. How’s Langer’s? They keep saying they’re good on the radio.

  9. Those clubs…you didn’t make those

    1. Those putts.. he DID make those.

      1. He didn’t build the green.

        1. Or design the flags they use to track what country you’re a serf of on the TV leaderboard.

    2. The way I golf, Phil Mickelson could play 18 holes with a busted tennis racket and still beat me by a wide margin.

      1. See, that’s wrong. You should get a massive handicap to overcome his unfair advantage.

        1. Diana Moon Glampers to the rescue!

  10. In CNBC’s defense (words I’ve never typed before now), they calculated his rate at 50+%. The tax pro they interviewed said if Mickelson was paying 60%, then he was not taking advantage of his deductions and the guy could get him down to 50%. And Phil’s paying 61% when he plays in England b/c that socialist nightmare taxes his endorsement earnings too.

    1. He has to pay taxes in most of the US States he plays in. I’d be willing to bet that the PGA killed the Western Open so they could cancel one trip to Tax-Hellinois most years. The bigger names never even go to the John Deere Classic.

  11. He got to keep 39% of what he earned stole from the poor (to be taxed again as soon as he spends it) and he’s complaining!? GREED!!!11!

    1. He gets paid to play a game, man! He’s not out there selflessly serving the collective like a public servant!

      1. Yeah how is it a guy gets millions to hit around a little ball but our teachers only make $40,000?! Where’s the sense in that?

        1. People want to pay to see a little ball get hit around a lawn.

          They’re not so interested in buying what teachers are selling. Unless their kids are in private school.

          1. Adjust Sarcometer accordingly.

            1. Mine is working fine. Adjust yours till it reads that I’m playing along.

      2. Well, if golfers needed $1 billion stadiums, I am sure that it would be necessary to subsidize them.

        1. Oh, man, we’re like already subsidizing them by allowing them to play on golf courses, which use totally lots of water and chemicals and take up land. Instead, we could put energy efficient public schools or recycled homeless shelters there.

          1. the insane is so strong in that dramatization. I bow to your mastery.

          2. Or free parking and charging stations for Priuses. But not Teslas.

  12. Phil must have beaucoup accountants to keep it all straight. Like if KPMG wants to do an endorsement shoot in NYC, Phil’s got to pay taxes on the endorsement earned by being in NYC. Move to Palm Beach where there are no state income taxes, and give California the finger.

  13. He’s absolutely killing himself by not leaving California like he said he might. I can’t imagine why in the world he hasn’t done it yet.

    1. He should leave CA and boycott the UK!

  14. Leviathan wants it’s fair share!

  15. CNBC dismissed his claim made in January that his total tax rate added up to about 60%.

    Mickelson: Well, look who’s laughing now! My rate is 61%!! HA!

    Ha ha ha!
    Ha ha…

  16. The sooner he learns it was the government’s money to being with, the sooner he’ll learn to enjoy getting his ass reamed sans lube.

  17. But several accountants interviewed said it’s unlikely that Mickelson is actually paying a rate above 60 percent. With even the most basic tax planning, they said, his real rate is most likely closer to 50 percent.

    One, unless they’ve seen his returns, how the fuck would they know? Two, as long as it’s 50 percent and not 60, everything’s hunky-dorry?

    But that rate is only if he did absolutely no tax planning or basic deductions. He would, for instance, get a deduction on his state income taxes from his federal. He would also deduct any golf-related expenses as a business expense. He probably puts money in a retirement plan, which is tax-favorable.

    Why should he have to take deductions? What great crime is it to think that you should keep the money you negotiated for and earned? If deductions are just loopholes for “TEH RICH” why should they even be available for him to take?

    Either Mickelson misspoke ? or he needs to hire a new accountant.

    Hurr-hurr, Phil Mickelson R a dummie for not jumping threw teh IRS hoops!

    1. Hurr-hurr, Phil Mickelson R a dummie for not jumping threw teh IRS hoops!

      No. He’s a dummy because the accountant he probably already pays for is not jumping those hoops for him.

      1. No. He’s a dummy because the accountant he probably already pays for is not jumping those hoops for him.

        Good point.

        1. I don’t always have an accountant, but when I do, I make sure he’s doing his job.

          Stay Classy.

          1. he’s doing his

            before anyone screams “SEXISM”, let me point out that I also make sure he’s 100% Asian.

    2. Whoever those accounts are they have to know they are talking out of their asses. Without knowing Mickelson’s total income/tax layout for the year it is hard to say where he should take what deductions, apply what tax rates, etc. Even then there are previous years which might affect parts of this equation.

      Now I know they understand this very well and are only filling their role as a TV consultant – but even then I don’t know why none of then seems to have at least mumbled something about this type of disclaimer.

  18. Waaa. Taxes suck and we’re all getting fucked.

    1. Lefty intellectuals at their finest.

  19. that’s before Mickelson pays his caddie, pays for his hotel and expenses, pays his agent, etc

    Oh that evil hotel, charging poor golfers to stay there.

    1. Great takeaway lesson there, Bluetard.

      1. I was just pointing out how odd it was to treat a hotel charging for a room or a caddie charging for his services as being equivalent to a 61% income tax the way that aside seems to be doing.

        1. Oh you were? Because all I heard was blah blah blah I’m a cake-eating retard developmentally disabled individual.

    2. Just reminding you that even though he is essentially his own business, he gets taxed on revenue instead of profit.

  20. Hotel, caddie, travel, golf balls are deductible business expenses.

  21. Goldf must be a very boring game.

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