Reggie Bush Could be Running From IRS on Gifts Allegedly Received at USC

Good thing Reggie Bush is a fast runner, because the IRS might be chasing him for back taxes, penalties and interest on the estimated $300,000 worth of luxury gifts he allegedly received while playing football at the University of Southern California. And if they catch him, Bush could end up writing the government agency a check on the high side of $150,000.

“If the entire $300,000 is determined to be taxable," Los Angeles-based CPA Mark Greenberg said, "about 50 percent of that would go to the IRS and Franchise Tax Board. And with penalties and interest, it could go up to 60 percent since it’s going back a few years.”

Greenberg estimates that Bush, now the star running back for the New Orleans Saints, “ultimately will wind up paying about $150,000,” but “it could be up to $200,000” if his financial team can’t get the penalties and interest waived.

Bush and USC have been in hot water since June 10, when the NCAA sanctioned the school with four years of probation and a two-year ban on postseason bowl games. The Trojan football team was also forced to forfeit all its victories during the three seasons Bush played, and it was stripped of 30 football scholarships intended for new players over the next three years.

The penalties imposed upon the coveted USC football program and former student-athlete Bush are the result of an extensive investigation that discovered the Heisman trophy winner received more than $300,000 in illegal benefits from marketing agents during the years he played college football.

Bush proclaimed his innocence in a public statement, saying, "I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC, but for the fans and players. I am disappointed by {the} decision and disagree with the NCAA's findings. If the University decides to appeal, I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as I did during the investigation.”

Bush’s camp declined to comment as to whether he has been contacted by any government agencies regarding unreported or underreported income. The IRS is legally unable to comment about any specific taxpayer.

How will all the drama surrounding Bush affect the lucrative endorsement deals he has inked since becoming one of the most prestigious players in the NFL? So far, not a lot.

“Reggie Bush has been an outstanding role model and a great partner of ours since he began his professional career. We’ve had a great relationship with him and look forward to continuing that in the future,” an Adidas rep told Energy drink Red Bull said it “will continue to support Reggie Bush.” And the Milk Mustache campaign said it has no plans to change its relationship with the star player, calling itself “proud to work with Reggie Bush whose professional accomplishments, dedication to youth and community service sets a fine example for the young people of America.”

It remains to be determined whether Bush will keep the Heisman trophy he earned as a superstar running-back in 2005. But some sports media experts think Bush should be prepared to hand it over.

“I don't think there should be any question. Bush should be stripped of the Heisman. I expect that to happen now that the NCAA has made its findings public,” said Eric Crawford, senior sports columnist at The Louisville Courier-Journal.

John McGrath, a sportswriter at The Seattle News Tribune, echoed Crawford’s sentiments, saying "as for Bush and the Heisman, the trophy ought to be revoked."

But some say Bush deserves to keep the award, regardless of any controversy.

“He should keep the Heisman Trophy because no one would argue he is not an outstanding athlete with great ability who’s achieved what he’s achieved by being a great football player," said  Jason W. Maloni, senior vice president of Levick Strategic Communications, a marketing firm. "Bush already has a Super Bowl victory to his name and has certainly proven he can compete in the NFL."