If you’ve ever wondered what an NFL player’s paycheck looks like, Arik Armstead is here to help. The San Francisco 49ers’ defensive lineman signed a 5-year, $85 million deal in 2020. But perhaps more alarming than his massive salary are the taxes taken out of it.
In a series of informational TikTok videos, Armstead broke down one of his paychecks. For this particular pay period, Armstead earned $393,055. After taxes, that number shrank to $194,085. That’s 49.3% of his paycheck sent straight to the government.
Arik Armstead is just the most recent NFL player to discuss the income tax issue.
Since Armstead lives in California, taxes hit him and his Niners teammates especially hard. The Golden State has the highest tax income rate in the country.
But all professional athletes pay what we call the “jock tax.” It’s an income tax that states charge non-residents on money earned while visiting.
So if, say, the Cincinnati Bengals play against the 49ers in Santa Clara, Joe Burrow & Co. all have to pay the California tax rate on money made during that game. Even though they don’t live there.
That’s why many pro athletes cite state income tax as a primary deciding factor in trades and free agency.
Tyreek Hill, for example, said signing a new contract with the New York Jets last year “was very close to happening.” What prevented that, said Hill, were “those state taxes.”
“I had to make a grown-up decision,” Hill said.
Hill, of course, ended up on the Miami Dolphins. Florida does not have a state income tax.
Jordan Poyer echoed Hill’s sentiments. The Pro-Bowl safety spent six years with the Buffalo Bills before becoming a free agent this offseason.
Poyer ultimately decided to re-sign with the Bills but not before voicing his frustration with legalized theft.
“I would love to go to a state that doesn’t take half my money,” he said on his podcast in February. “It’s crazy to me how taxes work. Some people will say, ‘You’re already making X amount of money.’ Taxes play a big part in all of our lives.”
They sure do.
Now we can only hope these athletes keep that energy when they head to the ballot box next November.
ohn Smith is your NFL insider, providing in-depth coverage of football’s biggest league. With a passion for the game and a keen eye for statistics, John delivers game analysis, player profiles, and breaking news to keep readers updated on all things NFL.