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Price of Victory: Phil Mickelson Hit With 61% Tax Bite on UK Winnings

Scott Heppell/APPhil Mickelson of the United States plays out of a bunker on the 15th hole during the third round of the British Open Golf Championship at Muirfield, Scotland, on July 20.
Phil Mickelson had a last round for the history books at the British Open, and now he's got a tax bill to match.

Mickelson, a 43 year-old Californian, won golf's oldest tournament by birdying four of the last six holes. His prize for this impressive feat: £945,000, or $1.43 million. The week before, "Lefty" -- as the normally right-handed Mickelson is called, for his left-handed swing -- won the Scottish Open, bringing his total winnings for two weeks of play in the UK to £1,445,000, or about $2,167,500.

But as K. Sean Packard, an expert on pro athletes' taxes, writes at Forbes, Mickelson won't be taking home nearly that much:

The United Kingdom, which has authority to set Scotland's tax rate until 2016, graduates to a 40% tax rate when income hits £32,010 then 45% when it reaches £150,000. Mickelson will pay £636,069 ($954,000, or 44.02%) on his Scottish earnings.

On top of that, Mickelson has to pay UK tax on a portion of his endorsement earnings in Scotland. Any bonuses he receives for winning these tournaments and moving up in the rankings will also be taxed at 45 percent. And Mickelson's endorsement income isn't chump change: As Packard notes, Roger Federer and Tiger Woods (whom Mickelson defeated at the Open) are the only athletes who earn more in this category.

And that doesn't exhaust Michelson's tax liabilities from his British triumph. He won't have to pay federal taxes on these winnings, thanks to a foreign tax credit, but the exemption doesn't apply to self-employment taxes, the Medicare surtax, or his home state of California's 13.3 percent take.

It all adds up to a rate of 61.12 percent -- right around the onerous amount Mickelson famously groused about in January: "There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and, you know, it doesn't work for me right now."

Perhaps thinking of his good-guy image, and those lucrative endorsement deals, Mickelson felt compelled to apologize for having vented his spleen: "Finances and taxes are a personal matter," he said in a statement, "and I should not have made my opinions on them public." One can only imagine how Mickelson feels now, contemplating a take-home rate of 30 percent (Packard's calculation, subtracting tax-deductible expenses from a post-tax net of $842,700).

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Tiger moved to FL to escape these taxes, why can't anyone else?

July 23 2013 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Doris's comment

Tiger gets a pass because he isn't white.Phil has no such right.

July 24 2013 at 2:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James G. Banks

61%. What a bunch of thieves.

July 23 2013 at 9:31 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

You people that agree with tax rates this high are sick in the head. No government or any other entity for that matter should have the power to take 61 percent of anyone's money.

July 23 2013 at 8:54 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fvklong's comment

The people that agree with these rates don't have to pay them.

July 24 2013 at 2:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I turn the channel anytime I see the whiny rich dude! He makes me sick and i don't care to add to his income in anyway, even a commercial! He's a grade A ah. Money grubber. Don't watch him and add to his grubby selfish stingy ego.

July 23 2013 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to kellyr0203's comment

He's a grade A ah. Money grubber.

That's not true. Mickelson gives generously to charity, is generous with friends, and tips generously in restaurants. Yu can check this out online, As for the high taxes, I suggest Phil find a new accountant to help him lower and defer his high tax bill. Maybe he can gift his wife with a dressage horse a la Mitt Romney.

July 23 2013 at 9:09 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Myrna's comment

Does lefty's wife have MS as well?

July 23 2013 at 11:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down

Phil's money is peanuts compared to the fortune that Obama is amassing at our expense.

July 24 2013 at 2:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


How does anyone expect him to be able to make ends meet by only taking home a million bucks???

A tragedy....

July 23 2013 at 8:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to juststeve35's comment

I would say having 61% of your earnings confiscated is a tragedy, regardless of your income.

July 23 2013 at 8:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

hey all these greedy rich people don't need all that money right? Take from the rich and give to the poor I say. Robbery by any other name is still robbery.

July 23 2013 at 8:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Cry me a river he still takes home over $800000.00 for 2 weeks play time.

July 23 2013 at 6:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I am sure he will deal with it, he is someone who plays by the rules.

July 23 2013 at 5:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The government just got a hole in one.
And they are just darn proud of it.

July 23 2013 at 5:22 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Do any of you think he really cares - he won the British Open and that is his concern - I am sure it is not $$$

July 23 2013 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ginnpr1's comment

Ginn: Of course he cares! What are youthinking? Phil has stated before that this stinks, and I for one understand why. Ginn, how would you like to receive only 30 cents out of every dollar you earn?

July 23 2013 at 4:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply