Phil Mickelson teed off about taxes

The golfer, one of the world's highest-paid athletes, said changes in tax laws could force him into drastic career changes. Tuesday, he backed away from the comments.

By Bruce Kennedy Jan 22, 2013 2:40PM

Phil Mickelson says he spoke too soon about taxes.

The Hall of Fame golfer, who has pocketed $66 million in career prize money, made news on Sunday when he announced that changes to federal and California state tax rates would prompt him to make some "drastic changes" to his career -- including a possible retirement from golf or moving out of state.

But Mickelson is now backing away from his earlier comments -- saying he shouldn’t have made his opinions on taxes and finances public.
Mickelson is ranked seventh on Forbes' 2012 list of the world’s highest-paid athletes, with $4.8 million in earnings and another $43 million in endorsements last year.

His concern stems partly from the tax increase California voters approved in November. Proposition 30 raised the marginal state income tax rate to 13.3% on incomes over $1 million. It is the first statewide tax increase there since 2004. The measure, according to KPCC Radio, also helps California "stave off nearly $6 billion in education cuts."

Sunday, the 42-year-old golfer said he was weighing his options. File photo of Phil Mickelson in July 2012 (Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

''If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63%,'' Mickelson said, according to Associated Press. ''So I've got to make some decisions on what I'm going to do.''

His estimates have been widely disputed. At the National Review Online, Patrick Brennan estimated that Mickelson would probably likely only end up paying a 50% top marginal rate.

Mickelson tried to tamp down reaction to his comments Tuesday, hinting that he will not abandon his career.

"I absolutely love what I do," he said in a statement. "I love and appreciate the game of golf and the people who surround it. I'm as motivated as I've ever been to work on my game, to compete and to win championships."

He is expected to address the issue in a news conference on Wednesday at Torrey Pines, in his native San Diego.

"Right now, I'm like many Americans who are trying to understand the new tax laws,” he said. "I've been learning a lot over the last few months and talking with people who are trying to help me make intelligent and informed decisions. I certainly don't have a definitive plan at this time, but like everyone else I want to make decisions that are best for my future and my family."

Last month, Mickelson said he was no longer involved in a group that had purchased baseball’s San Diego Padres.

The New York Times reports that, when asked whether the tax increase in his home state influenced his decision to step away from the Padres, Mickelson replied, "Yeah, absolutely.”

Jan 22, 2013 8:59PM



For the same reason it is bad to keep the money you earned when shopping at a store. Its called SHOPLIFTING. I'll tell you right now that I didn't want my hard earned money squandered in Iraq either, but I still paid my taxes and didn't complain. We pay taxes because through our government and our representatives we collectively purchased things as a nation, much like we purchase items at a store. Tell you what, next time you pick something up at the store, just walk right past the check-out counter and out the door, and when the store police stop you in the parking lot; you just tell them that "I Know How To Spend My Money Better Than You Do" and see what happens. Get the point!


I thought this was still a free country whereby we had the right to voice our opinion!  My God, is that being taken away from us as well.  I don't think he had anything to apologize for.  When you work hard for your money, we should not have to give it to the government so they can waste it...bailouts, payoffs, etc.


Jan 22, 2013 8:33PM
Good for him. I hope he moves out of CA. Maybe CA will understand that people don't generally like handing over wads of cash to an unknown government. "...would probably likely only end up paying a 50% top marginal rate." ONLY 50%?? That's half your money going to an unknown party who will squander most of it. Why is bad for people to want to keep their money that they earned?
Jan 22, 2013 8:14PM
Tiger Woods lost half his wealth to his ex-wife in the divorce settlement and still pays his high taxes without whining like Phil does. Phil could learn something about class from Tiger!
Jan 22, 2013 8:11PM
43 million in endorsements?   What do you have to do to receive 43 million in endorsements, endorse golf gear, make a 30 second commercial occasionally.  wow don't work to hard Phil.  I taught school for thirty years, had to get a masters degree, which I paid for.  Took 1.5 cost of living pay raises, while cost of living went up over 30%, some years our teacher faculty took zero cost of living raises.  Phil, do you know how much money you make, and know what it can buy. I'm supposed to feel sorry for someone like you.  I watch golf on TV, sure you are skilled, call it blessed, thank God for what you take home in the way of salary and shut the hell up.  By watching golf on tv and occasionally golfing, and do that on my pension.   I have to pay for each round, buy balls, and on occasion an up to date golf club, while  the golf industry as a whole makes billions of dollars, and I am supposed to feel sorry for people who make millions.  You are the 8th highest paid athlete in the nation and you have the balls to whine.  You  are bringing tears to my eyes Phil, and to think I have said over and over what a nice, decent man you are...I think I missed that call by a little.  You just insulted millions of fans, I can only hope you are going to apologize to those fans who make 30, 40, or 50 thousands a year. What kind of thinking  goes on in your head. Too many Koch brother ideas floating around in too many wealthy peoples minds.  Rush Limbaugh makes money telling people like you you've got it bad.
Jan 22, 2013 8:05PM
If I made that kind of money I would be happy to pay the tax, and keep my mouth shut.
Jan 22, 2013 7:46PM

shawn 3179,


It's a good thing ol Phil didn't have to pay the 85% marginal tax rate that was imposed by that radical Liberal, Dwight D. Eiesenhower. But i'm afraid that if you earn 60 million playing a game, ol Phil will just have to pay his fair share and scrape by somehow with the measily 30 million he has left.

Jan 22, 2013 7:45PM
Really Phil, now you almost have to move or you look like a total tool.
Jan 22, 2013 7:36PM
Hey Phil, become a corporate raider or vulture capitalist like ol Mitt Romney and you only have to pay 14%. Make millions, don't contribute nothing to society, sounds just what your looking for HUH!
Jan 22, 2013 7:35PM

i do not care if you make 30,000  or 30,000,000. He was not complaining what he made it was that at minimum he has to give half of it in taxes!!   Think about it 50% of everything you make goes to the government!

What he was complaining for was he thought with the new tax laws he would be paying over 60% think about this. for ever 1 dollar you make you get to keep .40 cents,

   What should concern everybody is that this is money people like Phil will spend or invest. Mabey he wants to build another house, with people to cut the grass and do the landscaping. But now he will not do it so the house builders will not get work or the people doing the upkeep.

  Mabey he wants a yacht, sombody will have to build it and the continous maintence hires workers, the captian and stewards. Boat yards and marinas  all out of work just so the socalist can GET sombody to try to make themselves feel better. If you destroy the rich "to be fair" you are shooting yourself in the foot. And the rich will just make money out of the country.

Jan 22, 2013 7:34PM

Bless him for being truthful and practical. While he honed his golf skills over thousands and thousands of hours f practice, self discipline, frugality in the early years, the takers were roaming around listening to I pods, playing e games, laying on their --- and waiting for government programs to feed, clothe, and house them.

Once again, whether it is him or the other 2.8 million that have left CA since 2000, most toTexas, what gets lost in the tax discussion is WHAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES WITH THE MONEY. Most americans, including me, dont mind paying a proportinate share and fully appreciate the opportunities this country offers, but it is obvious the unchecked spending by politicians and their obvious intent to not reign it in is destroying the very revenue that funds entitlements and provides a safety net for the TRULY needy.

Sucking up all the tax revenue received, printing some more and borrowing 46 cents per additional $ spent to buy votes through government giveaways, green energy scams, training Chinese hookers to drink responsibly and THOUSANDS OF GIVEAWAYS to favored groups would cause TRILLIONAIRES to resent paying taxes.

If there is no accountibility for government to allocateOUR money responsibly, I dont see how anyone could criticize a taxpayer reluctant to give them more.

Wake up takers, your lifeline is being squandered on Chinese hookers, in Egypt, Libya, green energy, corporate welfare, etc etc.

If working together means allowing more government waste, resist to high heaven at ANY cost.

Jan 22, 2013 7:30PM
Anybody ever consider that the reason why the rich are overtaxed may just be because many of them are over compensated for the work they do. Over the past 30 years, trickle down economics was the cause of the greatest transfer of wealth from the working class to the rich mooching class this country has ever seen. The progressive income tax is just the means of recovering the money that was stolen from the working class from under-compensation for their labor. Yes there is Class Warfare, and it has been waged on the middle-class and the poor by the rich over the past 30 years. Its a lie that the rich create jobs. The rich create wealth, and usually by laying off employees, cutting pay and benefits, or moving jobs overseas to utilize slave labor. The truth is that the hard working middle-class with enough disposable wealth to spend is what really creates jobs. Demand Side Economics will succeed where Supply Side Economics failed. Republicans believe that workers should bow down and worship at the alter of the corporate gods and pray they toss a few low-paying jobs their way. The truth is that the rich, corporate america,and the investing class need the hard working middle class as much or more than the workers need the rich and their crumbs. The middle-class make the rich wealthy, and does anybody really think that someone like Henry Ford would have amounted to anything if he had to build all the cars he sold himself. I think not!
Jan 22, 2013 7:28PM
Wonder what he really pays after all his deductions and tax shelters?
Jan 22, 2013 7:12PM

If ur rich which making millions means, then u have to pay taxes. If you dont like it, leave, good bye. Another rich white person moving back home to the rest of their kind. Im sure texas is lovely this time of year.

Jan 22, 2013 7:06PM
If you are fortunate enough to make that kind of money, you should thank your lucky stars, pay your share of the tax bill, and shut your damn mouth. 
Jan 22, 2013 7:00PM
Anybody that makes 60 million a year for playing a game is a TAKER!!!! Hey Phil, quit your useless 60 million dollar job and start swinging a hammer building homes for $30,000 a year. I wonder how long it will take for him to realize that he's got it pretty damn good right now. Phil, the good thing about building homes for $30,000/year- WEEEEE- NO TAXES!, except for PAYROLL, SALES, PROPERTY, GAS Taxes. But then again, a rich rich Republican whiner such as yourself doesn't consider them taxes anyway.
Jan 22, 2013 6:46PM
If anyone is crazy about sending two dollars out of everything they earn, they should be on the list of those who should never be allowed to carry a gun. We are well on the road to equal pay regardless of effort or ability. We will be equal, equally in squalor if Obama continues his headlong pursuit to destroy private enterprise. There will be two classes when Obama is through, rich, privileged communist politicians, and the broke 99% class..
Jan 22, 2013 6:35PM
Sounds like he can save a lot of bucks by leaving California. If you don't like the tax bill MOVE. There are states that don't even have state income tax. I live in one (Texas) and love it. If not willing to do this, then don't complain. He also chose to purchase items like disability insurance that is his choice. Get over i there are ways to change your financial situations.
Jan 22, 2013 6:31PM
Jan 22, 2013 6:28PM

we used to be a country of people trying to do something. now we're a country of people trying to be someone, just sayin'...

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