Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Shaquille O'Neal (an LSU alum, of course) drew himself a $275,000 fine for cussing out a referee on a live interview the other night.

Asked to comment about the fine, Shaq said:

"No man, including David Stern, can do to me what FICA hasn't already done," Shaq said.

While I appreciate the sentiment and the mild tax protest implied by the statement, Shaq's quip is somewhat misdirected.

FICA, of course, is the ridiculous set of taxes most of us are forced to pay in to Social Security and Medicare. For Social Security, the government takes 12.40% of our income (the alert taxpayers among you will realize only 6.2% is taken out of your check, but you should also realize that the other 6.2% your employer is forced to pay directly to the government is also your money). But the government only taxes the first $87,000 of income for Social Security, which means Shaq reached his max Social Security tax of $10,788 about 2 p.m. on January 1st.

The Medicare portion, however, has no income cap. Everybody pays 2.9% of their entire income to that old-person "Gimme!" program. Shaq's estimated 2003 income was $30.5 million, meaning he kicked in about $885,000 to help old people offest the cost of early-bird specials and Buicks.

OK, so that's a pretty good point. Over his 11 years as a pro, Shaq's probably paid close to $10 million to take care of grannies across America. And I doubt he'll ever get in to David Stern for that much jack.

But based on his $30.5 million 2003 income, Shaq faces a federal income tax bill of somewhere around $10.6 million this year alone, and over his pro career, Shaq's probably paid $100 million or more in income taxes.

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can fuck you like Uncle Sam.


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