Win or Lose, the Yankees Are Going to Have to Pay in Philly

Posted by Bernard O’Brien, October 30, 2009

As the Yankees head to Philadelphia, players and coaches will have to give a little more than their best effort. And we don’t mean just playing harder on the field. We mean a small piece of their income.

Derek Jeter may recall that when he won his first World Series ring in 1996, a portion of his income as well as that of his Yankee teammates was subject to New York City tax regardless of whether they lived in the five boroughs. Visiting teams playing at Yankee Stadium also had to toss some cash into the city’s coffers. That’s because from 1971 until 1999, all noncity residents (including professional athletes) who derived income from working within the Big Apple owed what was commonly referred to as the New York City commuter tax. Players who live in the city are still subject to the local income tax on residents.

New York and Philadelphia are among a handful of U.S. cities that still levy a tax on wages earned from work (which includes playing professional sports) performed within its borders. But unlike New York City’s income tax, Philadelphia’s wage tax covers nonresidents, too. In other words, the Philadelphia Phillies’ players (and all visiting players coming to compete in Philadelphia) still see a portion of their not insignificant wages taxed by the City of Brotherly Love.

Philadelphia is hardly alone in taxing nonresident professional athletes. All states and the handful of cities with income tax systems that cover nonresidents take a piece of player earnings based on the number of days they work there.

Using information provided by the Philadelphia Revenue Department, we estimate that each game the Bronx Bombers play in Philadelphia during the upcoming World Series will result in the Yankees pitching in about $25,000 in Philadelphia wage taxes. If the series goes at least five games, the three games played in Citizens Bank Park mean the Yankee players will pony up roughly $75,000 for Philly’s revenue stream.

While players that live outside New York City won’t be on the hook for paying taxes to the city on income earned during games in the Bronx (they will owe New York State income tax), that doesn’t mean City Hall’s tax coffers will be bereft of a piece of the World Series action. We’ll take our share in other ways, such as a higher sales tax than in Philly. We just won’t get a hit off the players’ earnings.