As you embark on your career, you might want to consider an attorney with experience in the world of athlete representation and sports marketing to help you with other aspects of your career beyond that which your agent would traditionally handle. Your agent might refer you to a lawyer, but you—the athlete—are ultimately in charge of who is on Team You. Your lawyer can help with the following:
• Tax issues
• Real estate acquisitions
• Estate planning
• Protection of intellectual property including your rights of publicity
• Formation of business entities (both for profit and non-profit)
• Arbitrations (Court of Arbitration for Sport) including eligibility and team selection disputes
• Anti-doping compliance and defense
Should you test positive for a substance banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency during an in-competition or out-of-competition test, you would be wise to consult with a lawyer to help navigate the enforcement process with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. (See the section on Anti-doping compliance for more.)
A financial advisor or tax professional can help you navigate the new world of being self-employed. Again, many agents can coordinate this relationship for you, but you can also find someone with whom you feel comfortable. While many people do their own taxes, the responsibility for managing your money as a self-employed individual can be more complex than for the average taxpayer.
If you are getting money from a shoe company or from another sponsor, the company will not withhold income taxes because you are not an employee. As a self-employed professional athlete, you will be entitled to many business expense deductions, but also be subject to additional self-employment taxes. Also, you will have to submit to the IRS quarterly estimated tax payments or face penalties. Money earned in multiple states and in foreign countries can further complicate your tax picture.