Apology not accepted

Golfer had every right to speak out on confiscatory tax rates

Phil Mickelson has apologized for recently pointing to high state and federal taxes as a reason he might take “drastic” action to avoid them.

The popular multiple Masters tournament winner quickly regretted having been so open with so private a matter, and issued an apology.

For what it’s worth, we don’t accept the apology, because we don’t feel one is necessary. We’re not sorry he said something about the confiscatory tax rates Washington and Sacramento are laying on big earners. It needs to be said.

It needs to be said because, however unsympathetic folks can be toward the very successful among us, success isn’t something that ought to be punished. And by confiscating over 60 percent of a person’s earnings, as in Mickelson’s case, governments are increasingly punishing success.

So much so that speculation ran rampant that Mickelson might move from California, or even to another country – or might even retire from golf. Certainly he might look at reducing his exposure in whatever ways he can.

The other thing that needs to be said is: his is not only a natural reaction, but it’s a healthy one. No one else earned what Phil Mickelson or any other successful person gets paid. They did. It’s inarguably a good thing for hard work, talent and popularity to be rewarded.

And he wouldn’t be doing anything either illegal or unusual; every taxpayer, big or small, tries to limit his or her tax liability. Whole industries have sprung up around helping people do just that.

Nor would Mickelson be the only high-profile taxpayer in the world to be doing his best to avoid unreasonable taxation. The wealthy are said to be fleeing France in droves to avoid a 75 percent high-end tax rate. The refugees famously include actor Gerard Depardieu – and might even include former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is said to be planning a London home and business.

Fellow American golfer Tiger Woods also acknowledged Tuesday that “I moved out of (California) back in ’96” due to high taxes. And they’re even higher now.

In his mea culpa – in which, notably, he didn’t take back anything he said – Mickelson apologized to anyone he “insulted.” What? Insulted? Why would anyone be insulted by Mickelson’s speaking the truth? Unless they just don’t want the truth spread around?

It’s not an insult, Phil, to point out punitive tax rates, or to seek to keep more of what you earn. You have every right to do so, and every obligation to your family, staff and the charities you benefit.

When all is said and done, Mickelson’s pitch on taxes may be quickly forgotten – as many other examples of overtaxation and avoidance, both individual and corporate, crop up in the years to come.

He just was among the first in the media glare to say something.

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