Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson regrets making public comments about how high his state and federal taxes are.
SAN DIEGO — Phil Mickelson is talking more about how much he pays in taxes than how many fairways he hits off the tee.
Mickelson, regarded as the “People’s Choice” for his connection with fans, put his popularity on the line Sunday with polarizing comments about how much he has to pay in state and federal taxes. The four-time major champion said it might lead to “drastic changes,” such as moving from his native California, and that it already caused him to pull out of the San Diego Padres’ new ownership group.
Mickelson’s regret was not keeping his opinions to himself.
“Finances and taxes are a personal matter, and I should not have made my opinions on them public,” Mickelson said in a statement released Monday night. “I apologize to those I have upset or insulted, and assure you I intend not to let it happen again.”
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Mickelson first made a cryptic reference to “what’s gone on the last few months politically” during a conference call two weeks ago for the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he won last year for his 40th career PGA Tour title. After his final round Sunday at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., the Hall of Famer was asked what he meant.
“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. “So I’m going to have to make some changes.”
Mickelson said the new federal tax rate, and California voting to increase taxes on the earnings exceeding $250,000, contributed to total taxes that tap into more than 60 percent of his income.
Golf Digest, in its annual survey of top earners in the sport, said Mickelson made slightly more than $45 million last year, mostly from endorsements.
The response to Mickelson’s opinions on taxes ranged from mocking a man who has become a multimillionaire by playing golf to support for having such a high tax rate and not being afraid to speak his mind.
Many PGA Tour players live in Florida or Texas, two states that have no state income tax. Tiger Woods grew up in Southern California, but when he made his professional debut he was listed as being from Orlando, Fla.
“I moved out of here back in ’96 for that reason,” Woods said Tuesday of the tax issue.