Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Take-home pay can take beating, depending on player's team: High taxes sting Jets' chances

Important factor when trying to lure free agents

  • Print

Manitoba's high tax structure is putting a serious crimp in the Winnipeg Jets' plans to bring the Stanley Cup to this hockey-crazed city, according to a new study by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The Ottawa-based watchdog said professional hockey players in Winnipeg pay an effective tax rate of 46 per cent, 13th best in the league, but still a far cry from the relative tax haven in Alberta where players on the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers pay an effective tax rate of 39 per cent.

"If the Winnipeg Jets are competing for a free agent, they'll have to pay a premium to give that player the same amount of take-home pay (as in a lower-taxed jurisdiction)," said Nick Bergamini, research director at the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and author of the report, which was released Monday morning.

"Because the Jets are in such a small market, they need every possible advantage they can get. One of the reasons the Oilers and Flames have been able to survive is their competitive tax system," he said.

NHL players take a financial hit to play in places such as Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, California, New York and New Jersey, he said.

So, what do all these tax rates mean?

For example, if the Jets signed San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton or goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers for the same amount as their current contracts when they become free agents at the end of the 2013-14 season, (three years for $21 million and six years and $41.25 million, respectively), Thornton's take-home pay would be $11.3 million while Lundqvist would take home $22.2 million. If they signed in Calgary, Thornton would take home $12.9 million and Lundqvist would take home $25.2 million.

California has the highest personal tax rates in the NHL at 56 per cent, meaning Thornton would take home $9.3 million if he resigned with the Sharks or opted for the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks. Lundqvist would take home $18.3 million with any of the California teams.

But it isn't always about the money, according to Jeff Kowall, a partner at Winnipeg-based law firm Thompson Dorfman Sweatman LLP and a certified NHL player agent.

"There are other variables in play, such as team competitiveness, the opportunity to play, the city itself, the lifestyle it offers and the familiarity with the coaches and management," he said.

Kowall's clients include Toby Enstrom of the Jets and Alex Steen of the St. Louis Blues.

The Jets are differentiating themselves on other important factors that go into a player's decision, such as the positive reputation of ownership and management throughout the league and a frenzied, sold-out home arena, Kowall said.

The various tax rates are only relevant for players who are unrestricted free agents and have the freedom to change teams (provided there is interest with another team, of course). Players who are on their entry-level contracts or are restricted free agents won't likely worry about taxes until they reach their unrestricted years.

Bergamini said governments have provided funding for arenas or bailed out pro sports teams in the past, but if they really want to give Canada's NHL teams a break, providing competitive income tax levels would be the best start.

"Surely helping to bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada is a reward too good for any politician to pass up," he said.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 24, 2013 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg Cheapskate: Home buying

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young goose   reaches for long strands of grass Friday night near McGillvary Blvd-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 19 - May 23, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.

View More Gallery Photos


Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google