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In Hillenmeyer v. Cleveland Board of Review, Ohio’s Supreme Court unanimously declared that Cleveland’s municipal income tax violated the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution by taxing a nonresident athlete under the “games-played” method rather than the “duty-days” method. According to the Ohio court, the games-played approach overtaxed Mr. Hillenmeyer by allocating to Cleveland Mr. Hillenmeyer’s compensation from the Chicago Bears using the percentage of the Bears’ games played in Cleveland. By this approach, Cleveland taxed Mr. Hillenmeyer extraterritorially, reaching income he earned from services he performed for the Bears outside of Cleveland’s borders. Due Process, the Ohio court concluded, requires Cleveland to avoid such extraterritorial taxation by allocating income based on all of Mr. Hillenmeyer’s days worked for the Bears including days devoted to practice sessions and promotional activity. The Supreme Court of the Buckeye State correctly construed the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and thereby created a conflict with the interpretation of that clause advanced by New York’s highest tribunal, the Court of Appeals, in its Zelinsky and Huckaby decisions. As a matter of constitutional law and tax policy, a nonresident’s income should be taxed in the state and city where it is earned. The Hillenmeyer court got this principle right. New York’s courts did not.
Cleveland State Law Review
income tax, tax law
Edward A. Zelinsky,
Hillenmeyer, "Convenience of the Employer," and the Taxation of Nonresidents' Incomes,
Available at: https://larc.cardozo.yu.edu/faculty-articles/447