A Look at NBA Player Salaries and Take Home Pay

When it comes to tax, the general consensus is that the rich can afford to pay more. While that specific statement is true (they literally can afford to pay more), the reality is somewhat less clear.

Highly paid athletes — and highly paid professionals, in general — pay their fair share of income tax, especially here in Canada. In Canada in 2014 (the most recent data available), those with incomes over $100,000 represented 8.4% of all income tax filers, yet paid 51.8% of all income tax collected. That’s substantially more than their fair share.

Need some proof of the tax situation of the highest paid athletes? This report from ESPN estimates the take home pay of the NBA’s biggest stars, both in the United States and in Canada. Kyle Lowry’s tax bill is dire: a gross pay cheque just shy of $29,000,000 less escrow, federal and provincial income taxes, agent fees, and 401K/pension contributions yields net pay of $12,000,000.

I’ll say that again: Kyle Lowry will take home just 41% of his gross pay.

On a $50,000 salary, that’d be like taking home only $20,500. Or, in other terms, of the $25/hour paid to you, you’d only keep $10.25/hour.

It’ll be an unpopular thing to say, but I’ll say it anyway: The most financially marginalized group in society are the rich. Here in Canada, the government takes more of their pay than they do. And while many still live in luxury and act imprudently, it’s still hard to fathom just how much the government leans on the rich to pay the country’s bills.