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Abstract

NCAA domestic college athletes can now financially benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The purpose of this article is to “educate” athletes on the new NIL rules in financial literacy. With new NIL income flowing to athletes, federal income tax consequences of these transactions must be addressed. This article results in a detailed introduction to the applicable federal tax rules regarding NIL income for athletes to stay in compliance with those laws. From understanding NIL income, to how the tax formula works, what tax forms apply, and what taxes may be due, this article provides a comprehensive toolkit for athletes who will be financially benefitting from NIL. Athletes must learn to understand the tax rules associated with the income from the NIL. In general, most athletes earning equal to or less than $12,550 in NIL income should have no federal income tax due. However, athletes likely must fill out tax returns, and as self-employed taxpayers, may owe self-employment taxes. Most athletes have spent many hours weekly and yearly mastering the sport and more than likely not as much time holding jobs. As such, there is a lack of basic understanding of the United States’ income tax system.

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