Major League Baseball players and their agents are already looking for ways to skirt a steep income tax hike after President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

With Obama proposing an increase in the top federal tax rate from 35 to 39.6 percent for families earning more than $250,000 annually, teams and sports agents are mulling the possibility of paying signing bonuses before the first of the year, according to the Associated Press.

The minimum salary in the major leagues is $400,000, but the top free agents often earn in the seven- or eight-figure range. The income taxes of a player who makes $10 million a year could well increase by $400,000 under Obama's tax plan.

If teams pay the signing bonuses before the New Year, though, players would still be taxed at the old rate. "It's something we'll consider," agent Craig Landis told the AP. He noted that taking the signing bonus this year could also save athletes money on their state income taxes.

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