May 9, 2015
The City of Cleveland assessed against professional athletes its municipal income tax using the “games played” method of taxation.
Under this calculation, the municipality took the athlete’s total annual compensation, times the municipal rate of taxation divided by the number of pre-season and regular games in the professional season for a per-game tax amount. That number was then multiplied by the number of games the player played in the City each year.
Former Chicago Bears linebacker Hunter T. Hillenmeyer challenged that method of taxation for calendar years 2004, 2005 and 2006, in which he played one game each in the City of Cleveland. In each of those years, he spent a total of two days in the City of Cleveland, but they tried to tax him 5% of his total earningson the basis of a 20-game season.
The Ohio Supreme Court sided with Hillenmeyer in finding that Cleveland’s “Games Played” method of calculating the taxes due violated his due process rights.
The decision is here.