Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Why the Bears Pay Lower Taxes Than the Packers

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    NEWSLETTERS

    We’re counting on the Bears to teach the entire state of Wisconsin a lesson next Sunday.

    That’s because the Cheeseheads’ Head Cheese, newly elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker, has been razzing us about the tax increase we passed last week. He’s using his state’s tourism slogan -- “Escape to Wisconsin” -- to lure Illinoisans beyond the Cheddar Curtain. He won’t call us FIBs or FISHTABs. Promise!

    But even at 5 percent, Illinoisans still pay lower taxes than Wisconsonians -- especially high-earning Illinoisans like pro football players.

    Quarterback Jay Cutler will earn $7.6 million in 2011 (still not enough to put him in a good mood). He’ll keep a lot more of that money as a Bear than he would as a Packer. After deducting $2,000 for the personal exemption as a single man, Cutler has a taxable income of $7,598,000. At a 5 percent tax rate, he’ll owe $379,900.

    Now, imagine Cutler were traded to Green Bay. He’d have $7,599,300 in taxable income (because Wisconsin has a lower exemption), and, at Wisconsin’s top rate of 7.75 percent, he’d owe $588,945.75 -- a difference of over 200 grand. I don’t know what Cutler does for fun -- or whether Cutler ever has fun -- but $200,000 can pay for a lot of it.

    And that, friends, is why the Bears are going to win on Sunday. As Republicans like Gov. Walker are fond of telling us, higher taxes reduce the incentive to earn and achieve. Each member of the Super Bowl winning team will earn an $83,000 bonus -- but the Bears will keep more of it, since they live in Illinois. Therefore, they will have more to play for.

    Wisconsin has a long way to go before it can lecture Illinois about being an American soviet. Milwaukee had three socialist mayors. Madison gave us the nation’s first public radio station. The state spends so much money on education that the University of Wisconsin consistently beats the University of Illinois in U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings.

    High taxes may provide a high standard of living, but they don’t bring out the best on the gridiron. Look at Texas. They don’t even have a state income tax, and the Cowboys have won five Super Bowls.

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!