Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

He Shoots, He Scores, He Pays Taxes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

He Shoots, He Scores, He Pays Taxes

Article excerpt

Professional hockey is back with its body checks and slap shots. And its taxes -- the income taxes paid by the millionaire goalies when they play and the sales taxes when fans buy their merchandise.

From Newark, where the Devils play their home games, to South Jersey, where the rival Philadelphia Flyers have a practice facility, bars and restaurants and retail stores are excited to have the National Hockey League back on the ice after a four-month labor dispute.

There's even a hint of excitement in Trenton, where the governor - - a professed Rangers fan -- is counting on every dollar he can get to help a state budget still struggling to recover from a deep recession.

So consider the Devils.

Nearly all of the players live in New Jersey, a state that leans heavily on top-income earners to balance its budget each year through the income tax.

Thanks to a top rate of 8.97 percent on the income tax, roughly 40 percent of all income taxes paid each year come from the top 1 percent of earners, those making $500,000 or more.

The lowest-paid player on the Devils makes just over $500,000.

And the star players can make much, much more.

The team announced Thursday that it will pay forward Travis Zajac $46 million through 2021. Another top player, forward Ilya Kovalchuk, makes $11 million annually. Forward Patrik Elias and goaltender Martin Brodeur are among a group making over $4 million a year.

In Trenton, where the Devils once maintained a minor-league team, lawmakers have been discussing the possibility of spending cuts.

Despite some modest gains this year, the state's 9.6 percent unemployment rate remains well above the 7.8 percent national rate. And revenue collections for Governor Christie's latest state budget were trailing his growth projections by $426 million as of the end of December.

The return of professional hockey should help.

"We expect the resumption of the regular NHL season will result in some economic benefits to the state, including modest enhancements to income and sales-tax collections," said William Quinn, a spokesman for the Department of the Treasury.

Christie has yet to give up on his budget despite the sizable shortfall. …

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