The new federal tax law giveth, and the new federal tax law partially taketh away.
For NFL players, the reduction in federal income taxes (2.6 percent for anyone making $500,000 per year or more) has a caveat. Players apparently will no longer be able to deduct the fees paid to agents.
Because those fees are not deducted from game checks but paid directly by players to their agents, here’s one critical piece of advice for all players: Pay your fees for 2017 by the end of the year. If players wait until after January 1, 2018 to pay fees incurred in 2017, those 2018 payments for 2017 fees may not be deductible in 2018.
For players who have guaranteed contracts in 2018, it would make sense to pay next year’s fees in advance, making them deductible in 2017. However, the NFL Players Association does not allow fees to be collected in advance. Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFLPA has no plans to change that rule.
That said, if a player has a deferred signing bonus payment due in 2018, the union will allow advance payment, at a discounted rate. Any player who has earned a bonus payment that is due to be actually paid in 2018 should work with his agent and/or check with the union to determine whether fees can be paid before the fees are no longer deductible.