While New York sports reporters puzzle over why pitcher Cliff Lee would prefer a reported $100 million, five-year deal to return to the Phillies, instead of a potentially richer offer from some team in New York, Horsham tax accountant John Kostenbauder points out one advantage:
Living and playing in New York City, Lee faces a combined city-state tax rate of 11.5% for home games.
Living in Philadelphia's Pennsylvania suburbs and playing at the Phillies' stadium down in South Philly, Lee would pay just 6.6%.
Living in South Jersey, as so many Philadlephia pro athletes do, state income tax would zoom to almost 9%. "But New Jersey's property taxes are brutal," added Kostenbauder, a partner at the accounting firm WeiserMazars.
Of course, if income taxes were all Lee cared about, he'd try to get back to the Texas Rangers, who are located in one of the few states that still doesn't charge any income tax.
Kostenbauder suspects other factors, like compatability with the Phillies that Lee worked with in the 2009 World Series year, played a bigger role. Which is natural and healthy, he added: "We have a saying among tax accountants," when clients ask for advice on where to live without paying the government too much: "Don't let the tax tail wag your dog."