Phil Mickelson: Superstar Golfer Foolish to Discuss New California Taxes

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2013

LA QUINTA, CA - JANUARY 20:  Phil Mickelson hits out of a bunker on the 12th hole during the final round of the  Humana Challenge In Partnership With The Clinton Foundation on the Palmer Private Course at PGA West on January 20, 2013 in La Quinta, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

If there is one thing that sports fans don't want to hear about, it is the financial plight of an athlete still close to the prime of his career.

For some reason, Phil Mickelson felt it appropriate to air his laundry to the media last weekend after the final round of the Humana Challenge event. 

Speaking to reporters (via ESPN Los Angeles), Mickelson said that he needs to make some big changes to combat the new California tax laws that changed when voters gave enough support to Proposition 30.

I'm not sure what exactly, you know, I'm going to do yet. I'll probably talk about it more in depth next week. I'm not going to jump the gun, but there are going to be some. 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, you know, it doesn't work for me right now.


If you add up all the federal and you look at the disability and the unemployment and the Social Security and the state, my tax rate's 62, 63 percent.

I would not presume to dispute Mickelson when he says that he needs to make changes because of the new tax laws. I have no idea what his financial situation looks like, though having both your wife and mother diagnosed with cancer can take a toll on a family's finances. 

However, being one of the most prominent golfers in the world for 20 years and having lucrative endorsement deals throughout your career is going to do a lot to help your financial portfolio. 

In fact, Tami Luhby of CNNMoney shares some specific details regarding Mickelson's actual taxes, including the fact that his tax rate "is closer to 51%, according to the Tax Foundation and California tax experts."

In a country where there are millions of people fighting just to get by, hearing Mickelson talk about making changes because the new law could force him to change his lifestyle isn't going to play well. 

To his credit, Mickelson did issue a statement to Fox News apologizing for making his comments public knowledge. 

Finances and taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public.

When you are a millionaire, talking about new tax laws and how it might cost you more money is just going to make you come off as insensitive to the problems that the overwhelming majority of people in this country and around the world face just trying to provide for their families. 

Mickelson is certainly entitled to feel nervous about the new tax laws, but he should have known better than to make a spectacle of the whole thing through the media. He is smarter than that—or at least he should be—and is now forced to do damage control.