At the beginning of each season, when the salaries of pro athletes are publicized, we’re always left wondering: How much do they actually take home?
This NBA season, we partnered with sports tax expert Robert Raiola, director of the sports and entertainment group for PKF O’Connor Davies, to analyze the salaries of the league’s highest paid players. We crunched their paychecks to come up with our best estimates of what they walk away with after deductions, as outlined to us by representatives of the players union.
You’ll notice that deductions from gross salary include federal, state and city taxes (and in Kyle Lowry’s case, Canadian taxes), agent fees (assumed at 3 percent) and a maximum 401K contribution of $18,000. In the case of players who live in a no-income-tax state, you’ll see that they are paying taxes — so-called “Jock Taxes” from playing in other states.
You’ll also see that players get back the 10 percent of their salary that was held in escrow from last season, after it is taxed. And they lose 10 percent to escrow for this year, which will be given back as long as the owners pay the players the agreed upon 51 percent of Basketball Related Income (BRI). You’ll also notice a surplus that players will get this year. Every player receives $355,449 (before taxes) because after the 10 percent escrow was given back, there was additional money, a shortfall of $163.5 million in total, that needed to be given back to reach the agreed upon percentage.
Note that only paychecks were analyzed here and not any additional revenue the players take in, such as endorsement income.