Injured NFL Player Wrongly Taxed by City

     COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) – The City of Cleveland had no authority to tax an injured Indianapolis Colts player who failed to travel with the team for a 2008 game against the Cleveland Browns, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
     A unified court found that because then-Colts center Jeff Saturday stayed in Indianapolis to rehab an injury, Cleveland’s municipal income tax should not have been deducted from his salary.
     Justice Paul E. Pfeifer wrote the court’s opinion, and cited a city ordinance which imposes a tax on “all qualifying wages … by nonresidents of the city for work done or services preformed or rendered within the city.”
     Pfeifer continued: “Certainly, none of Saturday’s work was performed in Cleveland. Nor can his work on the day of the Cleveland game, or on any other day, be attributed to Cleveland, since he the evidence shows that Saturday was in Indianapolis on game day, engaging in physical rehabilitation in preparation for future games.”
     The City argued that its ordinance – which includes a section specifically tailored to professional athletes – still requires that Saturday be taxed, as “NFL players are paid to play games and that Saturday’s compensation related to the playing of the game in Cleveland even though Saturday was not present for it.”
     The court disagreed, however, and ruled that Saturday could not be taxed for the game because he was performing his duties as an NFL player in Indianapolis – at mandatory rehabilitation sessions.
     The court read the ordinance in a narrow fashion and Justice Pfeifer explained that “here, Saturday was not even present at the game, and the regulation says nothing about what to do when the athlete is not even in the city where the game is being played. Thus, the regulation is at best ambiguous as to whether the tax is levied on Saturday.”
     Pfeifer and the other Justices reversed the ruling of the Ohio Board of Tax Appeals and granted Saturday a full refund of any municipal income tax paid to the city in 2008.

%d bloggers like this: