football gameWhile fans are watching the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots add points to the board in the "big game" this Sunday, the state of Arizona will be adding up the tax dollars. 

Pro sports mean tax revenue for many states, and, when hosting big events, states often get a little something extra from the players, the MVP and the fans.

Jock Taxes

Jock taxes are a fact of life for professional athletes. They exist in most states, but not all. They require athletes to pay state income tax for the number of days worked in a given state. Most states use a fairly simple equation that includes “duty days” a player spends in their state, days worked in a given year, and annual income.

California, which has 15 professional sports teams in the North American big four sports (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey), benefits greatly from the jock tax. In 2011, the state collected more than $160 million in taxes from professional athletes.


Being named Most Valuable Player for the big game has its benefits. The MVP is awarded a new car, and he gets to go to Disney World. He also gets a tax bill. When the Baltimore Ravens won in 2013, and Joe Flacco was awarded the MVP, he received a 2014 Chevrolet Corvette. Nice, right? But here was his dilemma: If he kept the car, he would owe close to half its value in taxes or more than $25,000. If he donated the car to charity, he would owe the IRS $6,900 because the car would be recognized as earned income. Flacco could avoid paying taxes on the car by asking Chevrolet to directly donate it to charity. Flacco picked up his car in October 2013 with his son at his side.

NFL Tax Rebates

Hosting the game is obviously a good thing for cities. But any city hoping to host the big game really has to sell itself to the NFL, and that includes giving money back to the NFL and providing the NFL with perks. Some of these perks include advertising rights in the stadium, police escorts for the teams and media personnel, and rental cars, taxis, limos, and buses for the public. For Sunday’s game, University of Phoenix Stadium is expected to ring up more than $60 million in revenue from ticket sales. Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority is expected to give the NFL more than $4 million in sales tax collected on those ticket sales.

The game is one of America’s most watched sporting events, so enjoy. And if you bet on either team, don’t forget that any winnings are considered income and are – you guessed it – taxable.  

Disclaimer: Tax Lounge is an informational source for industry news and related topics. We take every effort to provide honest and accurate tax information, but this information should not be a substitute for professional tax advice. Use our office locator to find your local tax office or click here to subscribe to our free newsletter.