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"Mickelson expects to make 'drastic' changes because of political, economic climate"

That's the headline in his hometown paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune. Which means Phil Mickelson's Wednesday press conference at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open should be quite the lively affair following his post round comments at Sunday's Humana Challenge.

Tod Leonard explains the circumstances and primary issue Mickelson intends to elaborate on Wednesday in his hometown.

Mickelson, 42, was responding to a question about why, in a conference call last Monday, he referred to “what’s gone on the last couple of months, politically,” when talking about the semi-retirement of fellow tour pro Steve Stricker.

“I think we’re all going to have to find things that work for us,” Mickelson said on the call. "I think we're all going to have our own kind of way of handling things, handling time in our career, handling what's gone on the last couple of months politically. I think we're all going to have to find things that work for us."

Asked if there was a correlation between his views and his withdrawal from interest in the Padres, Mickelson said, “Yeah, absolutely.”

I guess that rules out Phil watching the inauguration Monday or sending Governor Moonbeam some Callaways!

Alex Miceli fills us in on Mickelson's primary gripe.

Last fall, Californians approved Proposition 30, which boosts the state income tax to 13.3 percent on earnings of $1 million or more. That’s a 29.1 percent increase from the previous “millionaires tax” in a state with tremendous fiscal issues.

Compound that increased liability with the recent changes to the federal tax code, which bumps the top bracket to 39.6 percent from 35 percent to avoid going over the so-called fiscal cliff, and Mickelson’s tax hit is substantial.

And this...

“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 is 62, 63 percent,” Mickelson said. “I’ve got to make some decisions on what I am going to do.”

The official transcript.

So here's the good news as I see it: this will take some of the focus off of Tuesday night's players meeting where the PGA Tour will be discussing a decidedly first world problem in the form of anchoring belly putters.

The bad news? Depending on how Mickelson presents his case (he's quite good and comes off as sincere when he's passionate about something), he could either (A) shed light on legitimate issues surrounding the tax code or (B) brand PGA Tour upper echelon golfers as suffering the firstest of first world problems and merely reinforce negative stereotypes about the sport and those who play it. 

Should be an interesting day at Torrey Pines!

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Reader Comments (106)

Philly Mick is going Galt?
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRickABQ
Sounds like Phil's going to Florida....don't blame him in the least.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
If Phil thinks his overall tax rate is 62 percent, he's a bleeping moron. It's a graduated tax, genius.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRES
Moscow could be a cozy tax haven for Phil if Putin grants him Russian citizenship.

And, his subcutaneous underlayer will help with the bitter winter cold.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRob
Agree with RES. Someone is not giving him (Phil) complete information. By the way, I would pay the 7+% California tax (which Phil's real tax compared to Florida, Texas etc is probably about 5% more) not to live in Florida vs. San Diego. Given the less than 1% change in lifestyle due the increase, Phil is just blowing smoke, in my opinion.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBdub
Who can blame him. Immigration has been a disaster to Cali. I live here and see it every day. California is the US in 15 years. Buckle up.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDan
Phil either doesn't understand taxes, has a lousy accountant, or is being purposefully misleading. Following Prop 30 passing and with the repeal of the Bush tax cuts on high earners expected, some economists recalculated the highest marginal tax rate for all states: CA was the highest - at 51.9:. And that doesn't even take into account all the deductions one can take for pension contributions, charity, health etc.

Oh and even if Phil was losing 60% of his income to taxes, he'd still have made 24mil dollars last year after taxes (using forbes estimate of 60mil in earnings). Somehow I think most of us could live on 24 million dollars.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterelf
Not much sympathy for people who make millions playing a game but at least Phil has left thumbs up blandtown.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRichard F
Phil, let me tell you how to hit a flop shot.

You trying to explain tax law is just as ridiculous.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick1v
It will be drastic if Phil moves...he may not be able to commute to Riviera via private Jett.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Matre
So what if you can survive on 24 million.....the fact that he has to give the govt over 50% of his money is crazy. Maybe he wants to save and create a fortune big enough that 4 generations of mickelsons do not have to worry about money. I say good for him to make whatever move within the law saves him the most money.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commentermtj
@RES et al - you people need to work on your math skills. When you earn over 50 million, over 99% of your income is above the max bracket on the federal side. On the state side, the max starts over 1 mill, so over 97% of his income falls into that. Even when you allow for deductions of expenses, I am sure that the vast majority (over 90%) of his income falls into these top brackets - even if @RES, it is "graduated".
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Richard...pretty sure Phil doesn't want your sympathy......because he provides so much less of a service to society as a ambulance chasing lawyer....or some over paid actor.....or a socialist president! Never was a big Phil fan...but I sure am now! Take care of your family Phil and make as much money as you can....and before everyone calls me some other rich guy....I am a very underpaid teacher.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commentermtj
If the state of California is going to increase their take of millionaire's income by almost 30%, how many millionaires do the expect to stay there? And really how much money does it raise compared to a broad based tax increase ?
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianS
Sounds like the Ryder Cup standings might begin to include some young hungry democrats?
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmen Coroner
How dare Phil complain about wanting to keep more of his own money. He needs to get with the new program where the achievers have to give it up to the non-achievers in the interest of "fairness".

It's because of sheep like some of the people in this comments section that California is able to keep raising taxes while providing worse and worse public service.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrey Lag
Yep, Rick, Galt's Gulch will have a new denizen soon. So, California happily lost its collective mind at the behest of Howard Jarvis in 1978. And now the 8th-largest economy in the world (or something like that) is finally righting the ship. Go ahead, Phil. Leave and take your lucre with you. You won't be missed. BTW, Luke 12:48 has an appointment with you. Unless you are an atheist heathen like the apparent mentor to so many PGA TOUR players. But then you can't, by definition, be a "modern" Republican. So which is it?

Makes me wonder how Jack and Arnie made it back in the day.

Socialist President? Let's do a little exercise in arithmetic (and yes, it's adjusted for inflation, @ taxfoundation(dot)org):
1986 Top marginal rate on $358,782 and above: 50% (married, filing jointly)
2011 Top marginal rate on $379,150 and above: 35% (married, filing jointly)
I hear that the rate might go up a point or two on incomes of $400-450,000 a year. My heart aches for them. It really does. And for teachers, too. Who according to the current zeitgeist are little more than moochers and parasites who don't even work a full year.

Anyway, Ronald Reagan was a socialist. Damn. Who knew?
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG
If there is a single word that is farthest from describing "so many PGA Tour players" it just might be **atheist**... Thump thump ;0)
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDTF
Jack and Arnie made it, in part by becoming Florida residents.

We can talk about tax rates all day. But can anybody actually argue that any of our tax money is being spent wisely,
by anybody in government?

California sucks right now. Anybody with the ability to save 8 to 13 percent simply by moving
is at least going to look at it
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterpat burke
Good one Del, and JJJJS. No atheists in bunkers or on the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead? But it is impossible to be a Randian dipstick without being an atheist, and the Great Woman said so her own self. Repeatedly. It is possible to be a Christian/Jewish/Hindu or athiest socialist or social democrat, however. Just sayin'.

So, Pat, are your feet nailed to the ground in the Golden State? Or does your right heel come up on your backswing? I haven't really lived in that many different places, but have spent a lot of time in Florida and very close to it. The absence of a state income tax there hasn't exactly created Heaven on Earth. Except maybe for those in Arnie's and Jack's and Gov. Scottdemort's tax bracket. I guess that's your point. And Phil's. But really, it all depends on what the money is being spent on, doesn't it? Why, I even remember Dick Cheney (!), talking about a "peace dividend" as the Soviet Union dissolved along with the Warsaw Pact. What the hell happened?

And will someone ask Governor Moonbeam what he thinks about Phil's distress and his plans to address it? Geoff?
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKLG

I am now a teaching professional

High taxes the least of my issues.

Had I qualified for Champions Tour instead of sucking, I would certainly consider Nevada.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commenterpat burke
How many of those criticizing Phil (1) live in California and (2) have taken taxation courses and/or have knowledge of taxation?

I'll be sad if Phil leaves, but I don't blame him in the slightest. We are overtaxed here in California with crowded freeways, under-performing schools (my apologies to the teachers in this thread -- our schools are subpar in large part due to nonchalant parents and students) and pothole-ridden streets.

Parts of California are like a third-world country. :(
01.20.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDavid
KLG, go back to playing pine tree on your inherited money. Post the 86 tax act the top rate was in the 30s, not 50%. and arnie and jack made it back then because they didnt make anywhere near $358,000 per year.
01.20.2013 | Unregistered Commentersmails
This is the surcharge of living in California. Welcome to our state. You can't use us for our weather, beauty, ocean, etc without paying the toll. Either enjoy the sun on your back and the simple pleasures while expertly avoiding potholes doing 25 over posted speed limits or leave our state. For those that depart, splendid - we need less of those who complain the states
sucks - we'll cut you a break on a star map during spring break when you return on vaca.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBouje
No need to move all the way to Florida; Nevada has no state income tax, either. I'm willing to do my part to help Phil. Just a couple of minutes ago I searched under the cushions of my sofa and found 86 cents in loose change; I'll send it along immediately.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Smith
One cannot be blamed for saving some money from the taxman. But some here need some perspective on these issues. Think about America, then think about the rest of the world. Feeling sypathetic for Mickleson vanishes when you consider, that in Britain, in the 60's, the Beatles were taxed 98% of all their earings. For every million they earned, it was split 5 ways, with Epstien, their manager getting a fith of this million after 98% tax. That means £4,000 pounds each at that time for every million earned. Phil doesn't have it so bad.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterEasingwold
When the host of this tournament was told by his Treasury Secretary that the rich wouldn't object to higher taxes as long as they weren't demonized, the retort from his political strategist in the meeting was as follows: F&*k the rich! And there you have it. The definition of the "modern" Democrat we see today. What a fine way to unite a country with big problems.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterD. maculata
The other aspect from the fiscal cliff deal everyone overlooks is the cap on deductions. I know a person that gives more than $1.5 million dollars a year to charity, and has for a long time. Now that the cap is $350,000 (something like that) the amount in taxes that will be paid goes WAY up. So they are considering if they can continue to make those charitable contributions. It's more than just the rates.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMattS
Is choking down the stretch now going to be seen as a legitimate tax deduction?
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKangy Boy
This thread illustrates the problem with our tax code, it is so convoluted everyone has a different interpretation.
Phil & Amy Mickelson are welcome in any community I live in. Hey, Tiger left CA, before he drew his 1st check. Mickelson is gracious, polite, deferential, patriotic, and over-the-top generous -- with time & $$$. Successful people that are truly dedicated and caring -- CA (and, NYC for that matter) desperately needs & should be embracing the Mickelson's of the world...yet these states (& our President) feel this is the type of citizen and behavior that the tax code should punish.

Proof points are as follows:

-- Birdies for the brave -- The money received goes to Special Operations Warrior Foundation and/or Homes for Our Troops. The Special Operations Charity was founded a quarter of a century ago and donations that go there help to provide college eduction for children of special operations forces that have been killed in action. The Homes for Our Troops charity was established to lend a hand and funding for new or handicap adapted homes for soldiers with serious disabilities or injuries.
-- With one of his financial supporters, Exxon-Mobil, Mickelson and wife Amy are working to provide innovative programs to improve science and math programs in our elementary schools. As a result of their efforts, programs are being conducted to help train teachers at the elementary level so that their instructional skills will be enhanced and they can develop motivational teaching techniques that will hopefully raise young students' interest , The result of more sustained interest is likely to be an improvement in their ability in math and science which will help to prepare them for future careers in those fields. Mickelson and his wife appear on television promotions for this special Partnership with Exxon.
-- Mickelson's Smart Start program gave disadvantaged San Diego children clothes and school supplies. "Phil was in the Wal-Mart parking lot at 5:30 a.m. helping kids, shaking their hands," says Lindo Park Elementary principal Ginger Van Zant. "The kids were agog, and they loved to meet his kids, who were little helpers. Homeless families are really struggling, and they couldn't comprehend getting two pairs of shoes at once. They were like, 'I get to choose another pair?' It set a tone for the school year so that the kids could be the best they could be."
-- After contributing $250,000 to Hurricane Katrina relief, Mickelson pledged to donate his prize money from the 2006 Zurich Classic in New Orleans. He finished T15, but decided that $ 81,720 was insufficient and added another $250,000.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterputmedownfora6
Forget the actual top tax rate and all that. What rate does he ACTUALLY pay in taxes? I recall that candidate Romney, a multi-million earning fellow, paid ~13%, far less than I do as a humble scientist, or my teacher wife. @No Longer... (seriously, dude, you need a shorter handle! :) ) ...@No Longer has it right- the tax code is so complex that providing a simple datum or statistic for a tax rate is irrelevant. What is the ultimate tax rate paid once all of the loopholes, deductions, etc. are taken into consideration.

I'll ignore the rest of the partisan claptrap. Let's just focus on the factual numbers.


<<<sigh>>> I miss the good old days here, before politics entered this site. :)
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPete the Luddite
Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100 ...

If they paid their bill the way we pay o...ur taxes, it would go something like this ...

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do ...

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.
"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20". Drinks for the ten men would now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free.
But what about the other six men? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by a higher percentage the poorer he was, to follow the principle of the tax system they had been using,
and he proceeded to work out the amounts he suggested that each should now pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% saving).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% saving).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% saving).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% saving).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% saving).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But, once outside the bar, the men began to compare their savings.
"I only got a dollar out of the $20 saving," declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, “but he got $10!"
"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man. "I only saved a dollar too. It's unfair that he got ten times more benefit than me!"
"That's true!" shouted the seventh man. "Why should he get $10 back, when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"
"Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "we didn't get anything at all. This new tax system exploits the poor!"
The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.
The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had their beers without him.
But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and government ministers, is how our tax system works. The people who already pay the highest taxes will naturally get the most benefit from a tax reduction.
Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas, where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D.
Professor of Economics.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterhackinator
Re: Bouje,

That's right! And for those covetous of a society in which the most exalted members are state and municipal employees, welcome home!

Sadly, for everyone else, particularly those mindful of equitable remuneration for people like teachers, the tax debate is at best interlocutory. The true problem, as embodied by Calpers, is unsustainable spending, irrespective of tax rates. California's fiscal situation will shortly become living proof of Herbert Stein's famous maxim, "If something cannot go on forever, it will stop."
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAce
I think the positive takeaway is that Phil seems to be mostly out from under his gambling debts!
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterShort Knocker
This is why people are leaving California en masse. Soon there won't be enough "rich" left to tax in order to redistribute.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterReverse Eagle
Hackinator's -- sorry, DOCTOR Hackinator's -- charming little fairy tale ignores one thing. In his yarn, the ten drinkers all get exactly the same thing. Is he suggesting that a street cleaner gets the same for his labours, which are dictated by someone else -- where and when to turn up, etc. -- as a Phil Mickelson, who chooses his own schedule (Iand he used to choose it very lightly) to play a game, and when suddenyl he thinks he's being badly done to looks as if he is about to pick up his ball and go away?
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPlato
People nicely forget that deductions have been gutted over the years so a 50% take 30 years ago was better than a 40% one used to be able to deduct credit card interest for crying out if your rich you get screwed on every deduction because they are all been "means tested" like the mortgage deduction.
Phil should have seen this coming here in CA- Browns a world class class warrior...Prop 30 is only the beginning for these socialists
01.21.2013 | Unregistered Commenterjjshaka
As an outsider looking in, why such a dramatic difference in state taxes in Florida and California?
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrad
@Brad - because California is run either by ditzy-unfocused Republicans or by hippie-cabbage-smoking commies and is populated by Obamabots and Occupests.
01.21.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNero

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