Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Bloomberg: NFL’s Tax Break Foes Face 4th and 20 With Wind in Face, by Richard Rubin:
If there were ever a politically opportune time for Congress to remove the National Football League’s tax exemption, it would seem to be now.
A handful of U.S. lawmakers have seized on the domestic violence, child abuse and team-name controversies swirling around the league to renew calls for ending the tax break for the NFL’s central office. They aren’t making much progress, though, in advancing a measure through Congress.
Influential lawmakers in both parties, dealing with military action in Iraq and Syria and international tax rules, aren’t interested. That adds a roadblock in a Congress that can’t pass tax policies on which there is broad agreement. ...
The lack of movement on the tax issue doesn’t mean the NFL is out from under the eye of Congress. The indictment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson for child abuse and the release of a video showing former Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee drew attention from the public and politicians to violence off the playing field. ...
Under section 501(c)(6) of the tax code, “professional football leagues” are treated like trade associations. To the Internal Revenue Service, the NFL and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are equivalent.
The individual teams are taxable entities. Only the league office is tax-exempt, which means that it doesn’t pay corporate income taxes on money it receives.
According to the NFL’s most recent tax filing, for the year ending March 31, 2013, the league took in $327 million and spent $318 million. The National Hockey League and the Professional Golfers Association of America are also tax exempt.