TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NY Times Debate: Should Pro-Sport Leagues Get Tax Breaks?

New York Times Debate:  Should Pro-Sport Leagues Get Tax Breaks?:

NY Times Room for DebateThe league offices and associations for several professional sports are tax-exempt nonprofit groups. The teams themselves pay taxes on their revenue, but critics say the leagues are lucrative enough to pay for their administrative expenses without a tax break, especially since some executives get enormous compensation.

Should pro sports leagues enjoy nonprofit status or are taxpayers paying too many of their bills?

  • Ryan Alexander (Taxpayers for Common Sense), End the NFL Tax Breaks:  "Sports leagues like the NFL help teams make money through business ventures – a fine goal for teams, but not one taxpayers need to subsidize. "
  • Patrick Hruby (Journalist), Sports Leagues Do Not Need Taxpayer Help:  "The NFL as a whole takes in over $9 billion in annual revenue, more than the reported 2013 GDP of 49 countries. "
  • Judith Grant Long (University of Michigan), Ending Sports Leagues' Tax-Exempt Status Might Not Bring in More Money:  "Focusing on the nonprofit issue detracts from the more substantial burdens placed on taxpayers in the building and taxing of sports stadiums and arenas."
  • Richard Steinberg (Purdue University), Nonprofit Teams Rather than Leagues? "Many Commercial Organizations Are Nonprofits, as Billion-dollar Universities Sell Education and Hospitals Sell Healthcare."
  • Andrew Zimbalist (Smith College), Nonprofit Status Is Irrelevant:  "The tax exemption does not apply to the individual teams, but to the leagues, which operate as pass-through entities."

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