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This weekend, Professional Golf Hall of Fame member Phil Mickelson hinted that he might move from California, and even expatriate to Canada, because of recent tax increases on the wealthy in his home state.  Aside from the fact that he would face higher taxes in Canada, if his tax rate is such a concern, Mickelson might consider Myanmar or Chad whose citizens enjoy some of the lowest tax rates in the world.

Many have been critical of Mr. Mickelson’s comments, since he is the 7th wealthiest athlete in the world, and yesterday he walked them back. “Finances & taxes are a personal matter and I should not have made my opinions on them public. I apologize to those I have upset.” 

We tried to guess which of his corporate sponsors was most upset by the remarks and persuaded their 50-million dollar man to quit talking about taxes and issue the apology.  The pharmaceutical giant, Amgen, perhaps, which is uniquely skilled at dodging taxes by parking its profits in tax havens?  Or maybe it was Exxon Mobil, which has found ways to pay less than half the U.S. corporate tax rate in recent years.  Most ironic would be accounting behemoth KPMG, whose job is to help multinationals and high wealth individuals reduce their tax bills year after year.  Mickelson’s message that there are some tax increases you just can’t avoid can’t be good for business.

During his walk-back, Mickelson also said he was still learning about the new tax laws.  He might also want to brush up on his math, too, because he said his combined state and federal tax rate is 62 or 63 percent.  But with the highest average combined tax rate on the very wealthiest Americans hovering around 30 percent, that’s not likely.  Maybe that’s why it’s so very rare that Americans move to lower to their tax rates, once they understand how they work.