Craig Calcaterra

A 2011 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form is seen in New York April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Ballplayer taxes are really, really complicated

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It’s tax day. You got three extra days this year because of, um, Leap Year or the supermoon or Trump or something. I’m too busy to check. But today is the day by which you have to have your return filed barring an extension. It’s a stressful time for most folks who wait to do such things. You insane people who do your taxes in January are the worst sorts, really.

Over at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Stephen Nesbitt has an enlightening article about the challenges baseball players have in filing their taxes. No, it’s not a story about rich people complaining about their rates or anything like that. It’s about the complications in filing which come from playing in multiple cities and multiple states each year. And in dealing with demotions to the minor leagues and what you do while on rehab assignments in Florida or wherever. And, of course, all of the hidden municipal taxes levied on just pro athletes.

The next time you hear an athlete complain about his taxes, don’t be quick to think he’s complaining about how much he pays. It’s probably about how many different places he pays and just how hard it is for he — or, hopefully, his accountant — to keep track of it all.

Reminder: there is morning baseball today!

Ortiz Flag
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Today, as is the case every third Monday in April in Boston, the Red Sox will be playing some morning baseball. The Blue Jays will take on the Sox at 11:05 Eastern, with J.A. Happ taking on Clay Buchholz.

The reason, of course, is Patriot’s Day, which commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, which were fought near Boston in 1775. It’s more famous now as the date of the Boston Marathon — currently in progress — than it is for the Sox game, but the Sox’ morning game is, I am told by my Boston friends, one of the better things that happens in that town all year. Well, also sometimes the worst given that some people decide to make a drunken party out of things, but that’s a hazard of every celebration in every city.

West coast people with MLB.tv or Extra Innings get morning baseball multiple times a week if they want it. We easterners get it as a treat today. If you’re able, take in some pre-lunch action today.

Yankees president Randy Levine thinks you’re an idiot

Randy Levine
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We’ve talked for years about how taxpayers subsidize baseball stadiums via tax exemptions for the owners, bonds or direct expenditure of tax dollars for the construction and operation of sports facilities. The fact such things exist is not exactly controversial, even if the reason for their existing is. No one actually claims, outside of a couple of examples, like San Francisco and some of the older parks, that ballparks are not at least in some ways subsidized by taxpayers.

But Yankees President Randy Levine. Does. Or at least he wants you to believe that and is willing to tell you that up is down and black is white in the hopes that you do.

That is apparent in Michael Powell’s interview with Levine in the New York Times. An interview in which Levine actually tries to argue that Yankee Stadium is like some mom and pop shop, built with the elbow grease of businessmen like himself as opposed to the dollars of taxpayers:

Mr. Levine opened our discussion with a big play.

“There are no subsidies,” he said.

He folded that hand soon enough. According to the city’s Independent Budget Office, the stadium received about $270 million in federal tax-exempt financing. There was an additional $58 million for the parking garages, which the Yankees don’t own but from which they benefit.

“The bonds don’t cost the city or the state anything,” Mr. Levine said. “It costs federal taxpayers all over the country.”

That might not comfort a taxpaying plumber in Tulsa.

The city and state gave the Yankees a $40 million sales tax exemption on their construction costs. Mr. Levine argues that the stadium now generates sales tax, which is true but is beside the point. Most women and men start businesses without government subsidies and pay sales tax.

Levine goes on to argue that other public assistance to the Yankees — the building of a train station, the granting them public parkland to build Yankee Stadium and the subsequent construction of another park to replace it — are all things that are good for the public. Gifts to them, even, that he sort of implies they should thank the Yankees for. In this Levine sounds like one of those crooked Enron executives who argued that liabilities on balance sheets were actually assets.

Powell is having none of this and explains how all of these things and many other aspects of the construction of Yankee Stadium were clearly functions of, in essence, public welfare. A spending of public money that many if not most people were no doubt happy with, but a spending of public money all the same. The issue isn’t whether it was a good idea to do all of this — people can totally think it was — it’s whether or not it was, in fact, a gift. All of which, Powell, points out, is rather rich when you hear Levine rail against revenue sharing as some sort of abhorrent form of socialism.

Which is pretty typical of the class of people who hang with Levine. Welfare? The use of tax dollars to assist others? Public works? Bah! That’s socialism! Unless of course they need it, then tax dollars freely given are just part of the genius of capitalism.