Ohio “Jock Tax” Fight with Pro Athletes Accepted by Ohio Supreme Court

Posted on November 13th, 2014 by sutteroconnell

Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati all have special taxes on visiting professional athletes who play in their respective cities. Normally, Ohio law prevents a municipality from charging out of town workers a city tax if they work less than 13 days per year. However, probably due to the enormity of their salaries, the statute excludes visiting pro athletes. The Cleveland 2% tax generates millions of dollars in revenue from teams stopping by to play the Browns, Cavs and Indians.

The “Jock Tax” has been challenged by two former NFL players, Hunter Hillenmeyer and Jeff Saturday. Their lawsuit alleges that the exception violates the equal protection clause of the Ohio Constitution, as well as the U.S. Constitution. They have been joined in the fight by the player’s unions for all four major professional sports, who are advocating that the tax law be declared unconstitutional.

Before you start thinking that this is just another example of greedy pro athletes, Hillenmeyer is only asking for $5,062 and Saturday $3,294. The explanation from these two former athletes is that it is about principle. On the contrary, the cities seem to see this as an opportunity to take advantage of high salaried individuals in an attempt to share the wealth.

Oral arguments before the Ohio Supreme Court are set for January 14, 2015. Check back with the Defensive Line for updates.

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