Several pro athletes, players' unions suing city of Pittsburgh over 'jock tax'

Several pro athletes, players' unions suing city of Pittsburgh over 'jock tax'

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH — Several professional athletes are suing the city of Pittsburgh over a tax rate – Pittsburgh’s so-named “jock tax.”

The plaintiffs are former Penguin Scott Wilson, New Jersey Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, former baseball player Jeff Francoeur – along with the players’ associations of the National Hockey League, National Football League and Major League Baseball.

The lawsuit claims the city charges a 3% general revenue income tax on athletes who live out of state, but those who live in the city only pay 1%.

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On Thursday, Mayor Bill Peduto defended that tax.

“The stadiums themselves have been paid for by taxpayers. They use them as their place of work,” Peduto said. “There was a way we felt that some of that money could be recouped for the public and we will let the judge decide.”

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The athletes contend that the tax violates the state’s constitution and want a judge to declare it unconstitutional.

According to our partners at TribLIVE, Pittsburgh since 2005 has charged nonresident entertainers and professional athletes who perform at publicly funded venues — including PNC Park, Heinz Field and PPG Paints Arena — a 3% "nonresident facility usage fee" on salaries they earn in the city.

Members of the Pirates, Steelers and Penguins pay the tax if they live outside city limits.

Entertainers pay their portion of the tax on the salary they earn in Pittsburgh, The Trib reported.

The formula for hockey and baseball players is based on the salaries they earn for games played in the city, according to the lawsuit. Football players pay the tax on salaries earned during “duty days,” or the total number of days they work in a season. Duty days can include spring training, training camp, practice days, travel days and contractual public appearances.

Teams collect the taxes from their players and remit the money to the city.

Pittsburgh expects to generate $5.5 million in 2019 in "jock tax" revenue, according to its proposed operating budget, according to The Trib.