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Do High Taxes Keep Teams From Winning Championships?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Purist that I am, I still read the hardcopy of The Hockey News (THN) most weeks. As such, I don't have a link for "Where The Tax Man Cometh" from the must-read publication's Oct. 28, 2012 issue.

The subtitle states Certain cities offer better tax breaks for NHL players looking to get more bang out of their big bucks. The article notes where the National Hockey League's Canadian franchises and a handful of U.S. teams rank in terms of the amount of after-tax income players take home.

Not surprisingly, the three California cities that have major professional hockey -- Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose -- also have the lowest after-tax income with a 56% average tax rate. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames tied for first, coming in with the highest after-tax income at 39%. The remaining Canadian clubs come in as follows: Vancouver (43%), Winnipeg (46%), Toronto and Ottawa (49%) and Montreal (50%).

Beyond that, THN didn't offer much thought or analysis other than an observation from an economics professor, who cited a study that shows pro soccer players in Europe are among the country's most mobile labor force members. They often move for tax reasons, which, logically leads one to believe that a) NHL players would do the same and b) teams in states with the highest tax rates (and lowest after-tax income) have to pay more to mitigate the dollars lost to government coffers.

I wanted to know more so I took the extra step of going to the study THN got the information from. It came from an organ-I-zation that advocates lower taxes, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. As such, the relatively aggressive title of their press release foreshadowed a much more biased approach than the one THN used:

ARE HIGH TAXES SHUTTING CANADA'S NHL TEAMS OUT OF STANLEY CUP CONTENTION?

Where's Ron Maclean when you need him to rebuff conservative rhetoric and slippery slope jumping?

As I did, you can read the CTF's entire paper here.

Some other tidbits from the "study" that asks the question, Are the confiscatory tax rates of Ontario and Quebec a factor in Canada's 20-year Stanley Cup drought?:

  • With apologies to the lonely bullet point, there are no other meaningful tidbits to list.

The report by the CTF does little more than find different ways to say the same thing, over and over and over again. In some provinces and states, taxes are high. In others, they're low. And, here are some athletes we think possibly, could have, might have 'cuz we really don't know taken less money because, after taxes, it's actually more money to play elsewhere.

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