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Tennessee's privilege tax draws criticism from Detroit's Brian Rafalski

The Canadian Press (via The Hockey News) is reporting this evening that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski is complaining about Tennessee's new "privilege tax" which hits professional hockey and basketball players for $2,500 per game (with an annual limit of $7,500).

The Red Wings star has been running the numbers, and he estimates 17 teammates will be paying more money in taxes to face off against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night than they will earn for playing the game.

"My complaint with it is ... 17 teammates will be paying money out of their own pocket to play in Tennessee. It's a tax rate of over 100 per cent," Rafalski said Friday.

Follow after the jump to see how this shakes out, as we discussed this new tax last summer when the Tennessee legislature put it in place...

There are 193 days in this NHL regular season, and players are basically paid "by the day". Let's use forward Drew Miller as an example. His salary this season is $525,000, working out to a daily rate of $2,720 (per CapGeek).

Tomorrow, let's first subtract the escrow that all NHL players are paying this year (recently 18%). Then, the state of Tennessee will dock him $2,500 for playing.

It's pretty easy to see how he comes out having "paid to come to work" tomorrow, and that's before we've even got to federal income and other taxes.

As to why this doesn't hit the NFL's Tennessee Titans and their visiting opponents, apparently the NFL already had rules in place that would have penalized the state if they had enacted such a tax on football players.

I know, that's as stunning as it sounds.

At the time, Nashville Predators captain Jason Arnott declined to voice much opposition to the measure; in part, I'm sure, because from a PR standpoint it was an impossible position, as the economy was melting down, for a professional athlete to complain about it. Also, the Preds have previously enjoyed the lack of income tax here in Tennessee. The state is proud of the fact that it doesn't have an income tax, so in order to relieve some budget pressure they came up with this "privilege tax" which walks like an income tax, and talks like an income tax, except for the fact that it's targeted specifically at NHL and NBA players.

Is this privilege tax an arbitrary cash grab from a politically easy target? Absolutely. Getting it repealed is probably out of the question as the overall economy continues to struggle, but surely they should come up with a graduated scale based on the athlete's salary. We want visiting NHL players to view a trip to Tennessee as a losing proposition on the ice, not in the wallet.

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