Why sports enthusiasts should support Amendment 3


October 27, 2014 3:30PM

How much money is the contract worth? Will this team compete for a championship? Would my family be happy here? These are some of the common questions that professional athletes ask themselves when they become free agents and have to decide which team they want to sign with. While all of these questions are important, there is one major question that is just as critical, but often unmentioned—“How much money will I take home after taxes?” While the media often focuses on the contract amount, professional athletes are more concerned about the amount of “take home pay” they will receive. In a vacuum, it can seem like larger contracts mean more money, but that’s often not the case. The best example of this was the now infamous “Decision”, when Lebron James chose to play in Miami over Cleveland in 2010. Both Miami and Cleveland offered James maximum contracts, but because of salary cap rules, Cleveland was actually able to offer James about $4 million dollars more over a five-year period. Although this looks great on paper, James would actually make over a million dollars more in Miami because Florida doesn’t have an income tax, while he would have paid a six percent state income tax in Ohio. As James’ circumstances illustrate, economic policy matters. Tennessee holds an advantage over 41 other states by not having a state income tax, which will allow us to recruit players with more lucrative financial incentives. The proof is in the pudding. Out of the six NBA teams in a state without an income tax last year, five of them made the playoffs, and both teams that squared off in the NBA finals hailed from income tax-free states. While correlation does not imply causation, historically, teams that play in low or no-income tax states have fared better than teams in states with high income taxes. The best conclusion that I can draw from this is that when all else is equal, money wins out. If we keep Tennessee income tax-free, the Titans, Grizzlies, and Predators will all have a better chance at attracting high quality free agents than they would otherwise. On Tuesday, November 4th, the citizens of Tennessee can choose to constitutionally protect Tennessee taxpayers from a state income tax in the future by voting YES on Amendment 3. While more competitive sports teams may not be the most imperative motivation behind why I am supporting the amendment, it shows how an income tax would not only have a negative effect on each of our wallets, but also on our favorite teams. -Mark Cunningham