Syracuse professor Len Burman pens an item for Forbes.com and it doesn't get off to the best start with the professor citing Phil's comments in "Saturday's New York Times," a major problem since they were uttered on Sunday and he's trying to make a factual case.
That said, his main point is one that Mickelson sponsor KPMG probably won't appreciate: if Phil's paying what he says he's paying his accountants aren't doing their job.
My first reaction is that Phil should talk to his accountant because his effective tax rate is surely lower than 60 percent. The fiscal cliff deal raised his marginal income tax rate to 39.6% (assuming he’s in the top bracket). The phase-out of itemized deductions will add about 1.2% and he will also have to pay a combined Medicare tax rate of 3.8% (the regular 2.9% for self-employed people plus the new 0.9% surtax enacted to help finance the Affordable Care Act). According to the New York Times article, Mickelson will also owe 13.3% in California state income taxes because he’s in the new millionaire bracket. That adds up to 57.9%, but state income taxes and 1.45% of the payroll tax are deductible from federal income tax, so that reduces their net cost by 5.8% (39.6% of 14.75%). In net, Mickelson will owe about 52% of his marginal earning in federal and state taxes.
In other news, an unbylined FoxNews.com story lumps Phil in with actor Gerard Depardieu. Let's hope Phil doesn't want to move to Russia.
Sam Weinman compiles some of Phil's previous bits of venting, some of which were successful in making his case.
Lorne Rubenstein points out that Mickelson's comments overshadowed the golf played last weekend.
This time, he got on a soapbox and said a mouthful. He’s wealthy and he’s entitled to move where he wants. But suddenly hardly anybody was talking about Brian Gay’s win in a playoff at the Humana. Nobody was talking about Jamie Donaldson beating Justin Rose at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Did Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy miss the cut at Abu Dhabi? Oh yes, they did. That seemed a long time ago.
**Here's a different analysis from Ed Kilgore that again suggests the topic raised uncomfortable questions about the competance of Phil's accounts. Uncomfortable since KPMG, his sponsor, also presumably does some of his accounting work.
Aside from the rather important dual facts that (a) he seems to be conflating marginal and average taxes, likes so many people do, and (b) to pay anything like the rates he’s talking about he’d have to have the most incompetent financial advisers in the world; Mickelson does put a real question on the table. Should we worry that in a progressive tax system extraordinary people will no longer feel a continued financial incentive to do extraordinary things? And if there’s any risk of that, how do we discern the difference between sheer greed (and in the case of people who become insanely rich playing games, perhaps ingratitude) and some presumed rational breaking-point where toil and trouble are no longer worth the effort?
I guess the simple answer to that is: experience will tell.