Kiplinger

Does Your Favorite NFL Team Have an Advantage in Free Agency Because of Taxes?

The NFL's 2019 free-agency period is just about here! Hundreds of professional football players will be signing new contracts with new teams in the coming weeks and months. For many players, a new deal comes with a nice salary bump--and a bigger tax bill to go along with it. While a player's federal taxes won't be affected by which team signs him, his state and local taxes certainly will. That's because state and local income, sales and property tax rates vary widely from place to place. (Note: Athletes also pay state income taxes in most states to which they travel for road games throughout the season.) For this reason, teams located in lower-tax states, counties and cities have an advantage in free agency over teams in higher-tax places. Why? If Team A and Team B both offer a free agent the same amount of money, and if the player can keep more of that money for himself by signing with Team A, then Team A has the upper hand. It's that simple.

Kiplinger's 2019 NFL Free Agency Tax Rankings lets fans see whether their favorite team is helped or hindered in free agency by their local tax situation. We rank all 32 NFL teams based on the estimated state and local tax burden on their players (highest tax burden to lowest). The estimates reflect what a hypothetical NFL free agent would pay in state and local taxes if he signs a contract worth $4.5 million per year (the projected average for 2019) and lives full-time in the same county where the team's practice facility is located (players tend to live close to where they practice). Where does your team rank? Check out our list of all 32 NFL locations to find out!

32. San Francisco 49ers

Courtesy San Francisco 49ers

Team tax ranking: 32 of 32 (High Tax Burden)

Practice facility location: Santa Clara, CA

California's top income tax rate: 13.3%

Estimated state/local tax bill: $578,076 (on $4.5 million in income)

Go to California's full state tax profile

Sorry, San Francisco 49ers fans, but your team will have the hardest time attracting free agents who are concerned about taxes. The Niners have some cash to spend on free agents this year. But will "show me the money" players want to sign with the Niners and get stuck with a huge state and local tax bill? Many of them won't. (Bryce Harper reportedly didn't sign with the S.F. Giants because of California's high taxes.) At 13.3%, the Golden State has the highest marginal income tax rate in the country. This includes the additional 1% levy on taxable income over $1 million. So a player making $4.5 million per year for the 49ers would pay about $557,770 per year in California income taxes. That's by far the highest state income tax total on our list (by almost $123,000).

California also has a relatively high sales tax rate (and high-paid jocks tend to buy a lot of stuff!). The state rate is 7.25%, but local governments can tack on additional taxes. In Santa Clara County, where the 49ers practice, the base sales tax rate is 9% (and up to 9.25% in certain cities). That's the fifth-highest rate among the 32 counties that host an NFL team.

Free agents will want to look at real property tax rates in the area, too. In Santa Clara County, property tax rates in 2017 ran about $729 per $100,000 in home value. That's actually pretty low...the seventh-lowest on our list, to be exact.

31. Oakland Raiders

Courtesy Oakland Raiders

Team tax ranking: 31 of 32 (High Tax Burden)

Practice facility location: Alameda, CA

California's top income tax rate: 13.3%

Estimated state/local tax bill: $574,858 (on $4.5 million in income)

Go to California's full state tax profile

Things will change dramatically for the Oakland Raiders in 2020. That's when the team moves to Nevada, a state with no income tax. But for 2019, they'll still have to deal with California's high taxes when trying to sign new players. (It looks as if the team will play at the Oakland-Alameda County Stadium this year.) Just like the high-paid athletes suiting up for the 49ers and the other California teams, players signing with the Raiders for big bucks are going to be taxed at California's eye-popping 13.3% rate. Again, that's an estimated $557,770 per year for a player with $4.5 million in annual income. It's hard to just win, baby, if top-notch free agents are reluctant to sign with your team because of high taxes.

Sales tax rates in Alameda County are up there, too. In addition to the 7.25% state sales tax rate, the county tacks on an additional 2% for a combined rate of 9.25%. That puts the Raiders in a tie with the Tennessee Titans for the highest county rate for NFL locations. Plus, a few cities in Alameda County also add a 0.5% municipal sales tax (9.75% overall rate).

Not all the tax news is bad in Raider Nation. Property tax rates in Alameda County are quite reasonable. In 2017, taxes averaged only $739 per $100,000 in home value. That's the eighth-lowest rate for NFL locations.

30. Los Angeles Chargers

Courtesy Los Angeles Chargers

Team tax ranking: 30 of 32 (High Tax Burden)

Practice facility location: Costa Mesa, CA

California's top income tax rate: 13.3%

Estimated state/local tax bill: $571,398 (on $4.5 million in income)

Go to California's full state tax profile

The Los Angeles Chargers had a great season last year, but . If that happens, California's high income

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