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Athletes Deserve Tax-Free Income Too

This is a guest post by Tom Caffrey

The rich seem to always get richer while some current and retired athletes, entertainers and executives keep asking the proverbial question:  “Why is that?   “How do they do it?”

It is no secret that as many as 75 % of professional athletes face hard financial times after retirement.  Some are even forced to file for bankruptcy after only 3 to 5 years into their career or into their retirement. I know it sounds ridiculous and it may be hard to believe but if you Google it you will see it is true. Now is the time to prepare for your future.

There is a well known fact that high net worth individuals and families live, in part off of tax-free income when they retire, so the paychecks never stop rolling in. This is not a secret that is locked up in the vaults on Wall Street it is a way of live for affluent people.  The wealthy don’t pay taxes on a big portion of their wealth and income, which makes it much easier to keep growing their total net worth.

The unfortunate truth is that some high net worth individuals who acquired their wealth in the entertainment and sports industry are just simply not aware of tax-free income.  The vultures in today’s society are too busy looking to prey on the young men and women who acquire substantial wealth over night. The vultures think of course an athlete who just signed a lucrative contract or an entertainer or executive who just closed a deal will want to trade in his or her current ride for a new one. And, yes, he or she will want to settle into a new home or buy another one.  But what happens after the music stops and the final whistle has blown?

The agent who made a huge commission for selling him or her that new mansion on the beach isn’t going to call unless it is to repossess the house, nor is the car dealer that insisted on them having at least 7 cars priced over $150k each.  The IRS, collections agencies, and everyone else who thinks they are owed money will be calling to collect until there is nothing left.

Well you know what – athletes deserve tax-free income too!

Just because the final whistled has blown or the contract ended or the endorsements or royalties have come to an end doesn’t mean your income has to end too! I am not talking about going back to work either. You can play golf every day, if you want to, or walk on the beach or whatever it is you want to do and still have a comfortable income, if you plan well.  One of the most efficient methods designed to achieve this goal is to implement a financial plan that includes tax-free municipal bonds.

Tax-free municipal bonds are issued in every state and the income that you receive from them in most cases is tax-free. There are a few exceptions but not too many. It depends on the state you live in and type of project the bonds are financing etc. I will discuss the exceptions and types of tax-free bonds in future articles. For now, just know that, for the most part, tax-free municipal bonds will provide you with a steady stream of completely tax-free income. This is one of the biggest reasons why wealthy individuals own tax-free municipal bonds. The other significant reason is because they are also considered to be safer investments that are designed to
preserve wealth.

One of the only things better than having money is not losing it. The historical default rate on high quality tax-free municipal bonds is less then is 0.06%.  There are approximately $3.7 trillion dollars of municipal bonds outstanding and approximately 50 % are owned by individual investors.

There is a really good reason why the rich keep getting richer, some are lucky and some are just really smart but most of them are wise enough to include tax-free municipal bonds in their financial plan. Now it is time to for you to plan for your financial future. Good Luck!

State, local and/or alternative minimum tax may apply. This article does not constitute tax advice. Investors, athletes, entertainers, and executives should consult their tax advisor before making any tax-related investment decision.

Tom Caffrey is Vice President of Institutional Fixed Income at MidSouth Capital, Inc., a full service broker/dealer located in Atlanta, GA. Contact Tom at

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One Response to Athletes Deserve Tax-Free Income Too

  1. spencejanderson July 10, 2011 at 10:07 am #

    While I commend this article for informing on the benefits of municipal bonds and financial planning, I don’t think you did a justice on the risks of municipal bonds. Municipal bonds are not risk-free like US treasuries and many municipalities/states have had a lot of trouble balancing their budgets making their bonds very risky. The historical rate of .06% is not reflective of the economic environment we are living in today. Municipalities are taking in less tax revenue, receiving less aid from the federal/state governments, and are employing more and more people making the service payments on their debt far more risky than it has been historically. I understand you wanting to push your business as VP of a fixed income shop, but to say the athletes need to be invested or know about municipal bonds because so many go bankrupt at a time when they are so very risky does not make sense. Professional athletes need better and more prudent people making investments for them, but if I were an adviser today I would stay away from municipal bonds until the federal/state governments get their budgets balanced.

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