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Shohei Ohtani's groundbreaking $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a record deal in Major League Baseball, raises intriguing financial and tax planning questions. The 29-year-old superstar's contract, spanning 10 years, stands out not only for its size but also for its unique structure, deferring $680 million, or 97% of the total value, to be paid interest-free between 2034 and 2043. This deferral strategy, which leaves Ohtani with an annual payment of $2 million for the next decade, helps the Dodgers mitigate the impact on the league's luxury tax and supports future team investments.

Ohtani's decision to defer a significant portion of his salary has drawn mixed reactions, including concerns from California's state Controller Malia Cohen. Cohen highlighted the possibility of Ohtani avoiding state income taxes on the deferred amount if he returns to Japan at the contract's end, calling for legislative action to address tax deferral policies. Despite this, Ohtani's choice is seen as a move to aid the Dodgers' financial flexibility and team competitiveness.

The contract's structure also opens up discussions on future tax implications for Ohtani, given the uncertainty of tax rates and his residency status in the years to come. Financial experts like Lee Rawiszer and Matthew Bacchiochi underscore the potential risks and complexities in such long-term deferral arrangements. They emphasize the need for careful planning, considering factors like changing tax laws and the athlete's personal circumstances.

In addition to the direct earnings from the Dodgers, Ohtani is also expected to earn significantly from endorsement deals, which will be subject to California's income taxes. Rawiszer and Bacchiochi note the importance of cash-flow budgeting and estate planning in managing Ohtani's wealth over the long term. They suggest exploring options like life insurance and safeguards against career-ending injuries.

The contract's unprecedented nature is compared to past deals in professional sports, such as Bobby Bonilla's famous deferred payment arrangement with the New York Mets. Ohtani's deal is expected to set a trend in professional sports contracts, prompting athletes to consider similar deferral strategies for their long-term financial and tax planning.

Despite his contract's financial and tax complexities, Ohtani remains focused on his baseball performance, aiming to contribute to the Dodgers' success on the field. The deal illustrates a unique blend of financial strategy and commitment to team success, marking a significant moment in professional sports contract negotiations.

Talley's team of tax professionals provides comprehensive tax compliance and consulting services so you can preserve, enhance, and pass on your assets and wealth to the next generation. We welcome the opportunity to discuss the current options available for you. For more information, contact us today.


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