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State taxes could play a factor in Cliff Lee choosing between Rangers and Yankees

Nov 4, 2010, 11:19 AM EDT

Cliff Lee Family

While speculation swirls about how much Cliff Lee enjoyed his time in Texas and how much his wife disliked her time in New York, an overlooked factor in his free agent decision-making could be state income taxes.

Darren Rovell of CNBC wrote a very interesting article examining the differences in taxes Lee would pay depending on his new home. Texas does not have a state income tax, but it does have something called a “Jock Tax” that would involve Lee paying approximately $2.25 million if he signed a five-year, $120 million contract with the Rangers.

However, if Lee signed the same five-year, $120 million contract with the Yankees and moved to New York he’d pay between $11 million and $15 million in state income taxes depending on exactly where he lived.

In other words, assuming Lee can get in excess of $100 million from either team any offer the Rangers make will be worth about 10 percent more to him than any offer the Yankees make. Whether or not an “extra” $10 million would be enough to sway Lee one way or another is obviously unclear, but it does suggest that the Yankees will have to clearly top the Rangers’ offer to get him. Of course, we probably knew that already.

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