Dallas Cowboys training camp: Why players face stiff taxes

The Dallas Cowboys’ long-standing tradition of holding a portion of their annual training camp in Oxnard, California, rather than their home state results in a sizable tax bite for their players, according to one sports tax expert.

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Instead of playing under the hot summer sun in Texas, the Cowboys train at the River Ridge Playing Fields in Oxnard from July 27 through August 15. While player salaries are mostly tied to regular-season games rather than offseason practices, Cowboys players are subject to California income taxes during their time spent in the state, as Sean Packard, tax director at the OFS financial planning firm, noted in a recent piece for Forbes.

Based on the team’s practice days in California, roughly 9 percent of a returning Cowboys players’ income is subject to California’s 13.3 percent tax rate. At that rate, the Cowboys’ highest-paid players stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars to taxes.

For example, Cowboys star wide receiver Amari Cooper will pay more than $158,000 in California state taxes tied to training camp service time on his $13.924 million salary for the 2019 season, according to Packard’s calculations. Left tackle Tyron Smith, the team’s highest-paid player, will owe roughly $177,000 based on his 2019 salary.

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The Cowboys return to their new indoor practice facility in Frisco, Texas, after August 15 for the remainder of the preseason. Texas has no state income tax.