11/19/2014 04:51 EST | Updated 11/19/2014 04:59 EST

Want Your Team To Win The Stanley Cup? Raise Their Taxes


A coalition of low-tax advocacy groups recently put out a report analyzing what high income taxes on hockey players mean for NHL teams.

And, naturally, they had nothing positive to say about taxes.

The report, put together by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and Americans for Tax Reform, said that of the 123 unrestricted free agents who changed teams last year, 57 per cent went to teams where players’ income taxes were lower.

“Jurisdictions with high taxes will continue to lose the most talented, highly-skilled citizens to lower tax jurisdictions,” the report concludes.

But the left-leaning (we’re going to avoid calling them “pro-tax”) Broadbent Institute took a look at the numbers behind the report and came to a very different conclusion.

If anything, low taxes hurt a team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup. The NHL teams with the lowest tax burdens for players are in Alberta — the Flames and the Oilers, where players’ tax burdens are just above 38 per cent. (Check out the CTF’s chart, right.)

By coincidence, or maybe not, those were also the two worst teams last year in the Western Conference (see the NHL chart below).

Also by coincidence, or not, the team with the second-highest tax burden on players — the L.A. Kings — won the Cup this year.

The only team whose players have higher taxes than the Kings is the Montreal Canadiens, who finished third in the Eastern Conference last year and are leading, so far, this year.

But then you look closer and the pattern disappears. Last year’s top-ranked Eastern Conference team, Boston, sits in the middle of the pack when it comes to taxes. The four teams with the lowest taxes beside the Alberta teams — Dallas, Florida, Nashville and Tampa Bay — are all over the map when it comes to their rankings.

So we take back the headline: Raising players’ taxes probably won’t make your NHL team any better. But contrary to the arguments of the low-tax crowd, it won’t help either.

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