Champion golfer Phil Mickelson is backing away from some recent comments in which he suggested he may need to move out of California to avoid the increasingly heavy tax burden in the state.
Mickelson, who has won four major PGA championships, said he will need to make some “drastic changes,” but admitted that he is not sure what to do yet.
“There are going to be some drastic changes for me because I happen to be in that zone that has been targeted both federally and by the state and it doesn’t work for me right now,” he said at a press conference Sunday, according to USA Today.
Last November, California voters approved a ballot measure raising taxes on wealthy residents, increasing the top tax rate to 12.3 percent for single taxpayers who earn $500,000 or more, and couples who earn over $1 million a year. Federal income taxes also increased this month to 39.6 percent for single taxpayers who earn over $400,000 a year and couples who make over $450,000 as a result of the fiscal cliff deal.
Mickelson cited high tax rates as one reason why he backed away from joining a group of investors in buying the San Diego Padres baseball team. He noted that he already pays high taxes.
"If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate’s 62, 63 percent,” he said. “So I’ve got to make some decisions on what I’m going to do.”
Mickelson took some criticism over his tax stance, which has been compared to French actor Gerard Depardieu’s move from France to Belgium because of a recent tax hike on the wealthy (see Gerard Depardieu Leaves France Because of Tax Hikes).
Mickelson released a statement Monday night apologizing for his comments. “Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in a statement quoted by ESPN. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend to not let it happen again.”
Besides his earnings from golf, Mickelson also earns endorsement money from several major corporate sponsors, as well as Big Four firm KPMG, whose logo he wears on his cap.
Another championship golfer, Tiger Woods, weighed in on the controversy Tuesday, claiming that taxes were one reason why he moved from California to Florida, which has no state income tax. “I moved out of here [California] back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods said, according to The Daily Caller. “I enjoy Florida, but also I understand what he [Mickelson] was, I think, trying to say.”