NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson scores touchdown against FTB
At its final hearing of FTB appeals, the Board ruled unanimously in favor of taxpayer Keyshawn Johnson, ending a residency audit that had lasted for over 15 years.1 At stake was over $2.1 million in proposed assessments and an additional $80,000 in penalties.
The ruling was a big upset for the FTB who argued that Johnson was always a California domiciliary as evidenced by his numerous homes and business connections in California. The FTB claimed his excursions to the states in which he played, including New York, Florida, and Texas were only for temporary and transitory purposes during his annual "five to six month gig" during football season.
Johnson's attorney contended that the FTB's audit was shoddy and sloppy, citing numerous examples where the FTB claimed that Johnson was present in California based on financial transaction records, even though these days included days in which he was playing games in New York or Florida. He argued that Keyshawn's California homes and businesses were only investments.
Johnson also gave the FTB a lesson on what a professional athlete's year-long schedule looks like, including attending mini camps, training camps, and in Johnson's case, postseason playoffs, Super Bowl games, and Pro Bowl games. He essentially argued that anyone who thinks a professional athlete is a "seasonal employee" has no real understanding of what it takes to play in the big leagues.
1 Appeal of Johnson (December 11, 2017) Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Case No. 786255