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Extra ‘tax’ for out-of-town pro athletes is for the pits

Posted On: Nov. 8, 2019 1:28 PM CST


A lawsuit filed this week against the City of Pittsburgh alleges that professional athletes who play in the city but don’t live there are assessed an illegal higher tax in the form of a fee.

The plaintiffs include three professional league players, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the National Football League, all claiming the city steals extra dollars from players, assessing a “license fee” for games played in the city, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The suit claims the fee is unconstitutional because it is not uniformly assessed, since those who live inside the city limits pay less than those who live elsewhere. “Pittsburgh cannot tax nonresidents at a higher rate than residents,” the complaint, accessed by the newspaper, states.

Citing the city’s Non-Resident Sports Facility Usage Fee that was imposed in 2005, the suit says that “Pittsburgh imposes a 3% general revenue income tax on professional athletes residing out of state, while Pittsburgh resident athletes pay only 1%.”

"Though Pittsburgh officially calls its tax on professional athletes a 'license fee,' it bears all the hallmarks of a tax,” the complaint states. “It is a percentage, rather than a flat amount. It is assessed on 'earned income,' just as an earned income tax is, and thus varies dramatically in amount depending upon the income level of the professional athlete."