Panthers move to S.C.—a primer on ‘jock taxes’

Pretty good article in the Charlotte Observer on the impact the Carolina Panthers’ proposed move to South Carolina will have on the players. The bill that would give the Panthers $115 million in tax breaks if the team moves its headquarters and practice facility Rock Hill is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster later this month, the Observer reports. The Panthers will still play in Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte–for now. (Call me skeptical—I believe at some point the Panthers ownership will want the stadium in Rock Hill, too.)

The Panthers’ move presents an interesting dilemma for the players. For starters, right off the bat players will pay more in income taxes—the top state income tax rate in South Carolina is 7 percent, as opposed to North Carolina’s 5.25 percent. But there’s more to consider:

Panthers tight end Chris Manhertz recently bought a home in Rock Hill, according to Derek Copeland, the CEO of Silverrock Wealth Partners and financial adviser to several NFL players, including Manhertz.

“A guy like Chris, a smart guy who looks at the details, (says), ‘I’ve got a 30-minute commute no matter where I am … And my cost of living is 15-20% less,’” Copeland said. “It’s 30-35% cheaper from a housing perspective in South Carolina than it is in North Carolina, and then you see it when you drive over the border and you’re paying 20, 30 cents per gallon less on gas.”

He’ll also save a little on property taxes. Mecklenburg County and the city of Charlotte have a proposed property tax rate that totals 96.5 cents per $100 of assessed value following the recent local revaluation. That means that the annual tax bill on a $500,000 house would be $4,825.

In York County, property taxes are calculated somewhat differently using something called millage rates, which are adopted annually by local governing bodies. Using the state’s tax calculation, the tax bill for a $500,000 house in Rock Hill would be about $4,574.

What’s interesting is the story takes a look at so-called “jock taxes”–for example–raise your hand if you knew this–Panthers players are taxed by South Carolina for their income during training camp at Wofford College every year.

And who knew athletes and coaches pay “duty day” taxes—in other words, they are are taxed on the income they earn while playing games in other cities. That will certainly be a factor in this year’s NBA Finals, as I would think players for the Milwaukee Buck and Toronto Raptors are pulling for the Portland Trial Blazers to beat the Golden State Warriors if–for no other reason –to avoid California’s 13 percent jock tax, which–surprise–is the highest in the country.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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