TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, September 9, 2013

Are You Ready For Some Tax Reform? Congress Eyes NFL's Tax-Exempt Status

NFLBloomberg, NFL Nonprofit Status Seen Targeted in IRS Code Revision:

There’s a fresh spark in Congress to scrap the nonprofit status of sports outfits like the National Football League as part of the revisions to the U.S. tax code.

Senator Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, says the tax legislation should eliminate the status given to organizations like the NFL, National Hockey League and Professional Golfers’ Association of America, Bloomberg BNA reported.

The tax-exempt status of profit-making sports leagues has long raised concern among some lawmakers. Congress is drafting a plan for the biggest changes to tax rules since 1986. Officials are looking to end some long-standing breaks, and there is a debate between the political parties about finding ways to bring in more revenue and help reduce the national debt. ...

The NFL’s nonprofit status, which relates to its classification as a business league, was established in the 1960s as the NFL was negotiating its 1970 merger with the former American Football League. The PGA’s status is related to its charitable giving; nearly all PGA Tour events are non-profit. The leagues have successfully fought such challenges to their status under Section 501(c)(6) in the past. However, the other changes that are being considered in the tax code now are so broad that the effort may gain strength now.

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