Just prior to All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper signing a reported 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, the franchise from the City of Brotherly Love was on the ropes — because the San Francisco Giants at that point were the reported front-runners to ink a deal with the 26-year-old free agent.
Reports indicated the Giants moved a 12-year, $310 million deal across the table — but Harper and his agent Scott Boras pushed it back. Not enough dough, apparently.
Bob Nightengale, USA Today's baseball columnist, said Harper and Boras wanted at least $335 million over 12 years from the Giants — and all because of California's exorbitant income tax rate, by far the highest marginal rate in the U.S.
Breaking it all down
California taxes its residents 12.3 percent on income of $572,981 and above and an additional 1 percent for those making $1 million or more per year — what's known as the mental health services tax — putting such earners on the hook for a 13.3 percent state income tax rate.
Had Harper signed for the Giants for $310 million over 12 years, he would've owed California about $3.4 million in taxes per year — or over $41 million in taxes over the course of his contract.
By contrast, Pennsylvania has a flat tax rate of just 3.07 percent. If Harper ends up living in the Keystone State, he'll owe about $780,000 in taxes per year — or just over $10 million in taxes over the course of his Phillies' contract.
If Harper decides to live in New Jersey — as many Philadelphia athletes do — he'd be subject to the Garden State's 8.97 percent income tax rate for those who earn $500,000 per year and above. Such a rate would cost Harper about $2.3 million per year in taxes — or about $29 million in taxes over the course of his Phillies' deal.
New Jersey's income tax rate is the sixth highest in the country; Pennsylvania's rate was the 10th lowest in the nation in 2018.
Harper seems happy, at least
The slugger apparently was happy trading Instagram posts with free agent NFL running back Le'Veon Bell, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
After Bell congratulated Harper on his new contract — "Philly goin crazy right now" — Harper returned a message to Bell saying, "Aye come join! Let's take this city by storm. Bring as many titles as we can to the greatest city in the world. Brotherly Love. #SecureTheBag," PhillyVoice reported.
Here's a quick look at Harper in action: