Tony Romo is the NFL's Highest-Paid Player After Taxes, Grover Norquist's New Poster Child for Tax Reform

With the mammoth six-year, $108 million deal he signed last week, Tony Romo became the most richly rewarded player in Cowboys history. That put him fifth on the list of current NFL players, ahead of Eli Manning and Tom Brady but well behind Ravens QB Joe Flacco's $20.1 million per year.

Those numbers are a little misleading, at least according to Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform. The group has seized upon Romo's deal to bolster its anti-tax message, arguing that, after taxes, Romo's salary actually tops that of Flacco, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and every other player in the league.

The main reason? Texas has no state income tax. AFP makes its case:

With Romo's income tax burden being 39.6 percent - the top marginal federal income tax rate in the U.S. - and estimated tax liability of $7.12 million, he still stands to earn $752,000 more than Brees.

Romo should serve as an example of why businesses and taxpayers are making the move to Texas. Under Gov. Rick Perry, Texas has continued to thrive and experience economic growth throughout the recession because of its low tax rates and economic competitiveness. While a handful of GOP governors are seeking to eliminate or lower their states' incomes tax rates, such as Gov. Jindal and Gov. Brownback, more players will want to play in states where they will not feel the greatest tax sting. Some teams might even seek to relocate to one of these states.

That last part is a stretch. A state's personal income tax plays an exceedingly minor role in the economics of professional sports, which is one of many reasons you won't see the Lakers fleeing to Brownback's Kansas. But AFP's broader point, that we should all feel sorry for Joe Flacco, is harder to argue. The man has to fork over 5.75 percent of his six-year, $120.6 million contract to the state of Maryland. How will he ever get by?

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson