In high courts across America, judges are rendering their spring-term decisions. And in Ohio, the City of Cleveland has tacked another loss onto its growing pile of collective losses.
As The Scrapbook reported in the February 24, 2014, issue, the city’s controversial “jock tax”—a complicated 2 percent income tax on visiting high-income earners—was under legal attack by former Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Jeff Saturday.
A quick refresher: Cleveland decided to adopt a unique method of levying the jock tax. Instead of determining how many days an athlete worked in the city, and taking 2 percent of that, Cleveland structured the tax based on how many games were played in the city, thus giving the city more revenue. (To add insult to injury, Cleveland even taxed Saturday for a 2008 game he didn’t even attend while injured.)
Last year, the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals sided with Cleveland, claiming that making the tax collectors do research (find out, say, if a player was physically present) would amount to an “administrative burden.”
Thankfully, the Ohio Supreme Court disagreed, rendering a unanimous verdict that Cleveland’s method was unconstitutional. “The games-played method reaches income that was performed outside of Cleveland, and thus Cleveland’s income tax as applied is extraterritorial,” Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger wrote in the court’s opinion.
Joining Saturday in the victory is former Chicago Bear Hunter Hillenmeyer. The two men will receive refunds of $3,294 and $5,062, respectively. Cleveland is expected to lose $1 million or more in revenue each year going forward.
Cleveland didn’t lose without scoring a few points. The tax unfortunately gets to stay, but under a much fairer method. And for that, their fellow professional athletes have Jeff Saturday and Hunter Hillenmeyer to thank.