Special Report

The Best Paid Athletes and What They Owed in Taxes

Scott Halleran / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

Top athletes make top dollars, but they also pay top taxes. Because of differing tax rates from state to state, some athletes pay a much larger percentage of their earnings than others, and those who make the most money before taxes don’t always end up with more.

To determine gross income, tax liabilities, and after-tax income for 30 of America’s most prominent – and best-paid – athletes, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data collected by the sports news and betting site Bookies.com. The site considered state-specific tax laws and made its own calculations of the estimated amount each athlete paid in tax as well as net pay after tax, based on 2021 on- and off-field (or -court) earnings. The so-called Jock Tax – levied by some cities and states against visiting athletes who earn money within their jurisdiction – was not included in the computations.

Athletes who live or play for teams in high-tax states, not surprisingly, are paying a higher proportion of their salary in taxes than other athletes. Nine athletes on our list lost more than 50% of their earnings to the taxman. 

California and New York, where many of these athletes live and play, are both notoriously high-tax states. The athletes in California include football players Joey Bosa, Jalen Ramsey, and Aaron Donald; basketball stars Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James; and golfers Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Athletes playing for New York teams include Leonard Williams, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant. (These are the states collecting the most income tax per person.) 

No one on this list paid more taxes than LeBron James, whose tax bill amounted to an estimated $50,980,000. Don’t expect a crowdfunding site to be created for the Los Angeles Lakers forward, however; James still took home $45,520,000 after taxes. (See where he stands among the 100 most highly paid athletes in America.)

Click here to see the best paid athletes and what they owed in taxes

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott topped the list in two categories: 2021 earnings with $107,500,000 and after-tax earnings of $65,230,000. Tennis legend Serena Williams is the lone woman on the list, with after-tax earnings of  $25,200,000.

Source: Harry How / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

30. Paul George
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $37,000,000
> Total tax paid: $19,520,000
> After-tax earnings: $17,480,000

[in-text-ad]

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

29. Chris Paul
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $40,000,000
> Total tax paid: $21,100,000
> After-tax earnings: $18,900,000

Source: Andy Lyons / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

28. Matt Judon
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $36,000,000
> Total tax paid: $16,880,000
> After-tax earnings: $19,120,000

Source: Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

27. Phil Mickelson
> Sport: Golf
> 2021 earnings: $41,000,000
> Total tax paid: $21,630,000
> After-tax earnings: $19,370,000

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

26. Jalen Ramsey
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $43,500,000
> Total tax paid: $22,950,000
> After-tax earnings: $20,550,000

Source: Harry How / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

25. Damian Lillard
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $40,500,000
> Total tax paid: $19,950,000
> After-tax earnings: $20,590,000

[in-text-ad]

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

24. Chris Jones
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $37,000,000
> Total tax paid: $16,630,000
> After-tax earnings: $20,370,000

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

23. Aaron Donald
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $36,000,000
> Total tax paid: $15,260,000
> After-tax earnings: $20,760,000

Source: Mike Stobe / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

22. Leonard Williams
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $39,000,000
> Total tax paid: $18,180,000
> After-tax earnings: $20,820,000

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

21. Klay Thompson
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $44,500,000
> Total tax paid: $23,480,000
> After-tax earnings: $21,020,000

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

20. Marlon Humphrey
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $37,500,000
> Total tax paid: $15,910,000
> After-tax earnings: $21,590,000

[in-text-ad]

Source: Emilee Chinn / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

19. Kyrie Irving
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $44,000,000
> Total tax paid: $21,620,000
> After-tax earnings: $22,380,000

18. DeAndre Hopkins
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $39,000,000
> Total tax paid: $16,370,000
> After-tax earnings: $22,630,000

Source: Rob Carr / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

17. David Bakhtiari
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $48,500,000
> Total tax paid: $25,600,000
> After-tax earnings: $22,900,000

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

16. Jimmy Butler
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $38,500,000
> Total tax paid: $15,120,000
> After-tax earnings: $23,380,000

Source: Justin K. Aller / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

15. Myles Garrett
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $43,000,000
> Total tax paid: $19,100,000
> After-tax earnings: $23,900,000

[in-text-ad]

Source: Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

14. Serena Williams
> Sport: Tennis
> 2021 earnings: $41,500,000
> Total tax paid: $16,300,000
> After-tax earnings: $25,200,000

Source: Mitchell Leff / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

13. Trent Williams
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $43,500,000
> Total tax paid: $17,080,000
> After-tax earnings: $26,420,000

Source: Harry How / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

12. Joey Bosa
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $44,000,000
> Total tax paid: $17,280,000
> After-tax earnings: $26,720,000

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

11. Dustin Johnson
> Sport: Golf
> 2021 earnings: $44,500,000
> Total tax paid: $17,480,000
> After-tax earnings: $27,020,000

Source: Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

10. Russell Westbrook
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $59,000,000
> Total tax paid: $31,150,000
> After-tax earnings: $27,850,000

[in-text-ad]

Source: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

9. Ronnie Stanley
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $47,500,000
> Total tax paid: $18,660,000
> After-tax earnings: $28,840,000

Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

8. Patrick Mahomes
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $54,500,000
> Total tax paid: $24,520,000
> After-tax earnings: $29,980,000

Source: Scott Halleran / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

7. James Harden
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $51,000,000
> Total tax paid: $20,030,000
> After-tax earnings: $30,970,000

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

6. Stephen Curry
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $74,500,000
> Total tax paid: $39,350,000
> After-tax earnings: $35,150,000

Source: Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

5. Tiger Woods
> Sport: Golf
> 2021 earnings: $60,000,000
> Total tax paid: $23,580,000
> After-tax earnings: $36,420,000

[in-text-ad]

Source: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

4. Kevin Durant
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $75,000,000
> Total tax paid: $34,990,000
> After-tax earnings: $40,010,000

Source: Harry How / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

3. LeBron James
> Sport: Basketball
> 2021 earnings: $96,500,000
> Total tax paid: $50,980,000
> After-tax earnings: $45,520,000

Source: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2. Tom Brady
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $76,000,000
> Total tax paid: $29,870,000
> After-tax earnings: $46,130,000

[in-text-ad-2]

Source: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

1. Dak Prescott
> Sport: Football
> 2021 earnings: $107,500,000
> Total tax paid: $42,270,000
> After-tax earnings: $65,230,000

ALERT: Take This Retirement Quiz Now  (Sponsored)

Take the quiz below to get matched with a financial advisor today.

Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests.

Here’s how it works:
1. Answer SmartAsset advisor match quiz
2. Review your pre-screened matches at your leisure. Check out the advisors’ profiles.
3. Speak with advisors at no cost to you. Have an introductory call on the phone or introduction in person and choose whom to work with in the future

Take the retirement quiz right here.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us?
Contact the 24/7 Wall St. editorial team.