Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxing champion who regularly pulls in guaranteed purses north of $20 million a fight, is now refusing to hold his next bout in Las Vegas because the United States insists on taxing the income of people who make money inside its borders.
The fight, Pacquiao’s fifth against rival Juan Manuel Marquez, would guarantee him a $25 million purse if it’s fought in Las Vegas. But American taxes would eat a significant chunk of that, while fighting it in either Singapore or Macau wouldn’t tax his earnings, the fight’s promoter said. That’s a major concern for Pacquaio, who needs to hoard as much money as he can before his career ends, his manager told Yahoo:
“We were talking only this morning about where and when and against who he would fight next,” Koncz told Yahoo! Sports. “One thing we agreed on is that the taxes make Vegas a no-go. You’re a fighter up there risking your life in the ring, so you have to maximize what you are going to get out of it.
“I know, Manny knows, that he only has a certain number of fights left, maybe one, maybe three. We don’t know. So that means the priorities change a little bit at this point.”
Pacquiao isn’t the only professional athlete to complain about American taxes recently. Professional golfer Phil Mickelson, who made more than $40 million last year, threatened to move from California and even give up golf because of high tax rates in his home state. Anti-tax groups have trumpeted both Mickelson and Pacquiao as examples of high taxes hurting the U.S., even if the rich are still paying historically low tax rates amid budget cuts to programs that benefit people who don’t have the luxury of making millions of dollars to hit a golf ball or box for a living.
These athletes, of course, have the right to perform their craft wherever someone will pay them to do it. But it’s hard to feel sympathy for Pacquiao, who would still clear $15 million — an amount that would take the average American household 284 years to equal — if the fight were held in the United States.