COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A court ruling that Cleveland's so-called "jock tax" violates players' due process rights could end up costing the city millions in tax refunds.
The Ohio Supreme Court last week upheld a ruling that rejected the city's appeal over its formula for taxing visiting professional athletes. Former NFL players Hunter Hillenmeyer and Jeff Saturday sued to have Cleveland tax visiting players based on the number of days they work -- not the number of games they play.
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Visiting National Football League players could receive up to $2.4 million, Ryan Losi, executive vice president of PIASCIK, a Virginia-based sports accounting firm, told Cleveland.com. That number doesn't include refunds claimed by players in other professional sports, such as Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.
The city's tax department has projected the city will lose more than $1 million each year as a result of the change.
The city will begin issuing refunds to players and will recoup those losses from other revenue sources, city spokesman Dan Williams said in an email.
It "will not be a significant impact" on the city's $542 million budget, he said.
The players' unions for the NFL and the MLB are currently working to inform players how they can obtain a refund.
The NFL Players Association notified all active players of the court's decision and gave out information about seeking a refund, according to union spokeswoman Jilane Rodgers.
But some players who make below average salaries might not find it worth the time and effort to seek a refund, Losi said.
Overturning the jock tax is significant in principle and fairness, he said.
"For the ones we got back five, six, seven thousand dollars, ask them if that's immaterial," he said. "I think their family members would appreciate that."