Phil Mickelson Speaks out About Tax Rates, May Make 'Drastic Changes'

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIJanuary 21, 2013

Phil Mickelson got everyone's attention at the Humana Challenge even though he finished T-37.
Phil Mickelson got everyone's attention at the Humana Challenge even though he finished T-37.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Even though Brian Gay shot a final-round 63 and won the Humana Challenge in a playoff over David Lingmerth, and Charles Howell III, Phil Mickelson stole the show and the headlines with his “drastic changes” comment about US tax rates.

According to Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner, while talking with the media after his round on Sunday, Mickelson said:

“There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that (tax) zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn’t work for me right now, so I’m going to make some changes”.

Mickelson went on to add:

“My tax rate is 62-63 percent, so I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do”.

Mickelson and his family reside in Rancho Santa Fe, CA.  California's Prop 30, which passed after last November's elections, prompted his comments.  

According to the California Voter Information Guide's website, Prop 30: 

Increases taxes on earnings over $250,000 for seven years and sales taxes by ¼ cent for four years, to fund schools.

According to a Sacramento Bee report, the tax rate bump is more significant for California residents making more than $1 million:

And for the sliver of Californians who make more than $1 million, their new tax rate hits 13.3 percent, almost a 30 percent rate hike above their current rate.


It is estimated that Mickelson earned $47 million in 2012, according to  His 62-percent tax rate still leaves $18 million to pay for groceries and put into his IRA.

Most of America just can’t relate to this type of problem, particularly when the 2011 national median income was just over $50K.

The report says that Mickelson is expected to expand on his comments this week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in his hometown of San Diego.

It's unclear what he meant by 'drastic changes.' Could this be a hint at retirement? Or simply a move to a different state, like say, Florida

No matter what he meant, Mickelson will take a lot of heat for these comments. Why would he open himself up to this abuse?

Mickelson raises some interesting questions that Congress and state governments are trying to deal with right now.  Is this something that a professional golfer should be bringing to media attention at a major tournament?

Professional golfers are generally viewed as conservative, white-collar and Republican. Do Mickelson's comments really exude the image that the PGA Tour wants to project?


It is doubtful that his managers and even PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem are too excited about Mickelson making a political statement, let alone at a golf tournament.


Mickelson has been one of the most popular golfers of all time. Will this negatively impact his popularity throughout the golf kingdom? Possibly in the short run it will hurt, but higher-income individuals may actually applaud his remarks.

Mickelson is a very astute and media-savvy guy. He knows exactly what kind of reaction his comments in the press will create.

Professional athletes like Phil Mickelson have millions of followers. Why do you think they are able to garner millions of dollars in endorsement fees during their career? In this instance, a professional athlete is using his celebrity status to make a point about taxation.

Whether you agree with him or not, maybe he can get a real discussion started concerning taxation in America.  

Or maybe he'll just be relentlessly skewered for complaining about taxation when he's making more in a year than most Americans will see in a lifetime.