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Hacienda Will Get Biggest Windfall From Expos Games In San Juan

By Gabrielle Paese

March 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003 PUERTO RICO HERALD. All Rights Reserved.

It’s a great day for a ball game. Let’s play 22. With apologies to Ernie Banks that’s the song the Puerto Rican government is going to be singing come the end of fiscal 2003 when it rakes in somewhere between $5 and $8 million in income tax from the ballplayers who will take to Hiram Bithorn Stadium’s field between April 11 and September 11 for the Montreal Expos’ 22 "home" games in San Juan.

"It’s a tremendous windfall for Puerto Rico," said Rep. Francisco Zayas Seijo, the House Finance Committee Chairman. " With the tax, the government will collect at least $5 million and will collect immediately."

A total of 20 states charge an income tax, known stateside as a "jock tax" to athletes and performers who work in their states, with California being the highest (9.3 percent). Yet California’s income tax pales in comparison with what Hacienda will charge the ballplayers for traveling to San Juan. Alex Rodriguez, who makes $170,270 per game, will earn $510,810 during his three-game stay in San Juan. He’ll pay Hacienda a grand total of $102,162.

Two weeks ago, all non-U.S. or non-Puerto Rico residents (Sammy Sosa, for example) were obligated to pay a 29 percent tax on all income earned on the island. As one of its requirements for allowing the Expos to play in San Juan, Major League Baseball asked for (and will get) a reduction of that tax down from 29 to 20 percent.
The Fortaleza-ordered bill passed through the House of Representatives this week and heads to the Senate for final approval.

Seven states charge no income taxes, among them Florida, Nevada and Texas.

While the players’ accountants will be busy this year trying to find a good English translation of Hacienda’s tax code, Antonio Munoz, the event promoter, won’t even have to worry about filing.

In return for ponying up a reported $10 million in guarantees to MLB for the rights to put the games on in San Juan, the Puerto Rico government threw Munoz a bone. He won’t have to pay taxes on the money he earns over the top during the Expos’ home games.

While Munoz wouldn’t talk dollars and cents, he said the exemption will make this type of venture more lucrative in the eyes of other promoters as well.

Munoz said that as part of the deal, MLB gets half of the event’s earnings over and above the estimated $12 million to put on the show. In his defense, Munoz said that should anything go wrong, MLB is not in any way liable for the $10 million Munoz has already guaranteed them.

Munoz also confirmed that he has had discussions with MLB regarding the possibility of San Juan playing host to any or all of the Expos’ home games in 2004 as well as 2003 playoff games, should the Expos advance.

Meanwhile, a total of 62 Puerto Ricans are still holding their own in Major League Baseball’s spring training camps in Arizona and Florida, while the teams will start making cuts beginning next week.

SBL officiating controversy heats up

The Superior Basketball League (SBL) and its referees continued to butt heads this week as SBL tournament director Miguel Laborde reiterated his complete refusal to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the Referee Association.

The referees, all 24 of them, were unable to reach a consensus last week. Association president Alvin Boria said the SBL is resorting to extortion and blackmail to divide the Association’s referees and intimidating them into signing individual contracts. Boria said the SBL’s goal is to replace the local refs with a group of NBA officials.

But former SBL director and current Puerto Rico Basketball Federation president Hetin Reyes, who is no fan of the current SBL administration, made it clear last week that "foreign" refs wouldn’t get their contracts approved by Reyes.

"I’m not against having foreign intervention in our league because it’s always good to learn a little from other people, but that doesn’t mean eight referees, that means two or three like we’ve always had," said Reyes.

Gabrielle Paese is the Assistant Sports Editor at the San Juan Star. She is the 2000 recipient of the Overseas Press Club's Rafael Pont Flores Award for excellence in sports reporting. Comments or suggestions? Contact Gabrielle at

Her Column, Puerto Rico Sports Beat, appears weekly in the Puerto Rico Herald.

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