The world champion New England Patriots will celebrate with the city of Boston today in the now customary duck boat parade downtown. It would be fitting if an IRS agent was waiting for quarterback Tom Brady at the end of the route.
Specifically, he might want to talk about Brady’s new truck. You know, the 2015 Chevy Colorado he won as Super Bowl MVP. The same truck Brady wants to hand over to Patriots rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler, who won the Super Bowl on a last second interception.
The truck is considered a taxable prize under the Internal Revenue Code, section 74. It’s taxed at Tom Brady’s marginal income tax rate of 39.6 percent (plus state income tax, but I’ll leave the focus on federal here).
According to TrueCar.com, the fair market value of a 2015 Chevy Colorado is in the neighborhood of $34,000. This is likely an understatement, since it includes none of the options that Chevy no doubt added to the vehicle.
So Tom Brady will pay ($34,000 x 39.6 percent) in taxes, or $13,500 in income tax on this prize.
But the pain won’t stop there for the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
Don’t Forget About the Gift Tax, Tommy
According to ESPN, Brady has decided to gift the truck to Patriots rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the game-clinching interception on Sunday night. This is not a taxable event at all for Butler–gifts are never taxed to the recipient.
Brady is not so lucky. He’s going to have to pay gift tax on this transaction. The tax code only allows you to give $14,000 tax free from any one person to any one person before assessing a donor level tax on the gift.
Assuming this will be Brady’s only gift to Butler this year, the transaction sets up a taxable gift for Brady of $20,000 (the $34,000 value of the truck minus the $14,000 gift tax exclusion). Assuming Brady has made at least $1 million of taxable gifts up to this point in his life (a safe bet), he will owe a 40 percent gift tax on this $20,000 taxable gift.
That’s a $5000 gift tax on top of a $13,500 income tax on the truck, for a combined federal tax hit of $18,500.
That’s over half the value of the truck itself.
What About His Game Check?
Note that the above analysis is only for the federal income tax owed and gift taxes due on the MVP prize. What about the paycheck Brady collected for winning the Super Bowl?
According to CNBC, the NFL pays a player on a Super Bowl winning team a salary of $97,000 for the game. Brady doesn’t appear to have any Patriots team bonuses for the game, so this is likely the amount we’re dealing with.
Brady will face income tax at the top rate of 39.6 percent. In addition, since this is a wage, he will also owe the top Medicare tax of 3.8 percent, half of which will be picked up by the NFL. Put those together, and Brady will pay $42,000 in federal taxes on the game.
He didn’t get hit that hard by the Legion of Boom Seattle defense, but the IRS is a much bigger foe.