By: Whitney Ray
January 25, 2013
Tallahassee, FL- He’s one of the most famous golfers in the world. Phil Mickelson has won four majors and racked up millions of dollars in prize money.
But this week the golfer, famously known as Lefty, was in the news for another reason. Michelson’s federal income tax rate climbed from 35 percent to 39 and his California state taxes rose from 10 to 13 percent.
Lefty hinted that he might leave California to avoid the income tax increase and Republicans here at the Florida State Capitol wasted no time extending an invitation to the famous golfer.
On Twitter, the Florida Senate Majority Office wrote this message to Mickelson touting the state’s golf courses and low tax rates.
“We don’t have a state income tax on persons. We have a great climate. We have great schools. We have great opportunities for people and for Phil Mickelson and people like him, we’ve got great golf courses,” said Senate President Don Gaetz.
Tigers Woods defended Mickelson’s comments. He moved from California to Florida. And when Lebron James brought his talents to South Beach, financial experts called the move genius, because it saved the basketball star millions.
But those left of Lefty say the last thing Florida needs is another rich athlete who doesn’t want to pay his taxes.
“It’s kind of a sad day when the draw to your state is come on down, you don’t have to pay your fair share of taxes,” said Karen Woodall, a social services advocate.
For more than a decade Florida Democrats have filed bills to end sales tax exemptions on yachts, limos and other luxury item, saying it would generate half a billion dollars a year for the state budget.
Through his spokesperson, Mickelson apologized for his statements on taxes. He says taxes are a private matter and from now on he’ll keep his opinions to himself.
We asked Florida TaxWatch if the state’s tax code attracts the nation’s upper crust. Rob Weissert, Vice President of Research for the nonprofit think-tank, says it definitely helps. Weissert says low taxes, no income taxes, the weather and the entertainment available are just a few reasons people flock to the Sunshine State, but he adds it’s not just rich people who find the tax code enticing.
“The lack of a personal income tax in Florida helps everyone. It helps everyone retain more of their income and use that to purchase goods which circulate through the economy or to invest in growing their own business or someone else’s,” said Weissert.
Florida is just one of seven states without a personal income tax. Two other states limit taxes levied on people’s wages.