woensdag, december 04, 2002

Sock It To The Jocks

"We are witnessing the first stage of what may become a precipitous decline in the city's quality of life. All the tax arrows are pointing up and all the service arrows are pointing down. Hunger, homelessness and unemployment are big problems. Library hours are shrinking and resources are being carted away from a school system that was already in deep trouble."
Bob Herbert in a NYT op-ed piece, November 14, 2002

New York City enacted the biggest increase in property taxes in its history Monday--an immediate 18.5 percent rise--to deal with its worst fiscal crisis since the city nearly went bankrupt in the 1970s. Officials said the higher taxes are necessary to bridge a $1.1 billion budget gap in the current fiscal year, and to reduce a projected $6.4 billion deficit for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. The city also has made $3.5 billion in budget cuts over the past year.

Meanwhile, over in Cincinnati, City Council members are looking for ways to generate revenue to close a projected $35 million budget deficit for the city. Supporters of the proposed "jock tax" noted that Columbus and Cleveland already impose a similar tax under Ohio law which began in (where else?) California, back in 1991. Now, 20 of the 24 states with professional sports teams have jock taxes.

A special report by the Tax Foundation concluded that the jock tax is a dangerous precedent because it violates several principles of good taxation.

Right. Dangerous precedent? What, that people who make a katrillion dollars doing something as trivial as hitting a ball or throwing a ball into a peach basket or running with a ball or skating around on an ice rink should have to give an infinitesimal percentile of that back into the communities they earn it in so the children who live there have heat and books and windows in their schools? Or so that millions don't have to be endangered by budget cuts for police or fire protection? Right.

Wake up Bloomberg. Let's say the average athlete in baseball, basketball and hockey makes a million bucks a year, or, averaging the salaries with the amount of games these athletes have to play, roughly $1,562.50 per game. There are 162 baseball games played in NYC every year, and another 160 or so basketball and hockey games played. That's 320 games or so per year. Now, how many athletes? Well, taking just the starters alone, that's about 25 taxable players or $39,062.50 of taxable income per game. For 320 games, that's there's a total of $12.5 million of taxable income on the starters alone. Taking Cincinnati's 2.1% game salary tax as a method of calculation, we're looking at $ 2.625 million. It doesn't even begin to solve the budgetary crisis but if you then figure that in reality, starters make up only about 30% or so of the combined rosters of basketball, football and hockey teams and earn an immeasurable amount more than the bench scrubs, we're more likely looking at a tax revenue figure of somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million. Chicken feed, correct. But a small price for the over privileged to pay for a few fire stations staying open or a few more cops on the street or a few more teachers in a school. It's a start. Now if we can just divert a little of that $116 trillion lawsuit against the company run by Osama bin Laden's family, Saudi Arabian princes and Sudan to the NYC tax coffers, our problems would be solved. Then again, maybe once those $180 billion worth of Iraqi oil revenues kick in, we can always take a little of that. Surely that would get New Yorkers fully behind the war effort.

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