Well, a lot of high entertainment people have always used Vegas as their perm. residence. I can name 2 right off the bat. Jerry Lewis and Redd Foxx. Close enough to travel back and forth.
No. It certainly hasn't affected the Dodgers and Angels ability to sign free agents.
Tax returns for pro athletes are incredibly difficult and complex. Tons of w-2's and 1099's to deal with. But ultimately, I've never heard of an athlete from a team sport not sign somewhere because of taxes.
It's not as simple as where they "live" or where they own homes. Taxation of professional athletes is an extremely complex issue. Not only do they potentially owe income taxes in their state of domicile (i.e., state of permanent residence), but they also potentially owe income taxes in every state in which they (a) have a residence, and (b) play a game. For example, in 2012, the Kings played three games in the State of New Jersey and probably spent about 8-10 days in NJ in advance of and between those games. As a result, the Kings players will owe NJ state income taxes based on their earnings attributable to those games.
I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of this, but this article does a pretty good job of highlighting the issues: Hodgson Russ LLP - The Multistate Tax Quandary for Professional Athletes
I'm sure it enters into their thinking, as it should. Over the term of a long deal on a big money contract it's a very considerable chunk of cash. I've certainly heard it mentioned as one of the considerations for athletes, along with the high price of real estate.
"When a professional athlete plays an away game, he’s likely incurred a tax liability in the state he’s just visited. As mentioned earlier, because of the publicity that surrounds professional sports, tax auditors can easily learn how much athletes earn and where they are when they are earning it. This increased attention by state tax auditors has (somewhat falsely) led the media, the teams, and the fans to believe players are subject to special 'jock taxes.' In fact, nonresident professional athletes are subjected to income taxation under the principles generally applied to all nonresidents. They just make way more money than the typical taxpayer, so their issues get all the attention."
As to your own situation, it's possible that your employer had an obligation to withhold from your checks based on those other states' laws and that you had an obligation to file non-resident tax returns (and possibly pay taxes) in AZ and/or HI (even if you and your employer didn't know those obligations existed). I know that, where a portion of one's income is taxed in another state, one may be able to reduce one's California taxable income as a result, so may come out as a wash or one could even end up saving money since most other states' income taxes are lower. The difference, as the article suggests, is that (I assume) you're not a high profile person earning in the high 6-7 figure range, so the odds of someone like you getting tagged for this are probably negligible. But, like I said, I don't pretend to know all the ins and outs of this and am definitely not a tax guy.
I worked in different states back in the day. Few weeks or a couple of months here and there. Didn't get taxed either, problem is I didn't make enough in that calander year to meet the state's minimum tax level.
Trust me, roll into Arizona 4 times a season, earn 200K worth of game checks, they will look for your you.