Top

blog

Stories

 

Why Won't McCaskill and Blunt Stand Up to the NFL Over Its Non-Profit Status?

Categories: Politics, Sports

footballfield2.jpg
Cropped image via Daniel X. O'Neil on Flickr
This Sunday is the Super Bowl, a day that's supposed to be about football but is really a celebration of American excess. If history is any indication, Americans on Sunday will gulp down 50 million cases of beer and devour 104 million pounds of avocados. And its not just the folks watching the game who'll be buzzed and bloated by halftime. The FOX television network stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars off the Super Bowl with 30-second commercial spots selling for $4 million. But that's chump change compared to the real winner Sunday (neither of which will be the Denver Broncos or the Seattle Seahawks). No, the organization that stands to make the most on Sunday is that favorite non-profit organization of yours, the National Football League.

See also: America Totally Loses It Over Budweiser's Adorable Super Bowl Commercial

rogergoodell.jpg
Roger Goodell: The $29.5 million CEO of a "non-profit."
Yes, you read that right. The National Football League is a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization and the Super Bowl is its annual coronation ball, acknowledging its place as the most popular sport in America. Next year's bash should be even more extravagant, with NFL's network broadcast fees for the 2014 season doubling to $6 billion. Even after splitting that among 32 teams, there is sure to be plenty left in the till for the league office, which in 1966 successfully lobbied Congress to grant it non-profit status. Since then the league's tax exemption has allowed it to dodge hundreds of millions of dollars in federal taxes, even while occasionally crying poor -- as it did in 2011 when the NFL took in $255 million in revenue but claimed to be $77 million in the hole after expenses. Of course, it probably didn't help that one of those expenses was commissioner Roger Goodell's $29.5 million paycheck. Let's spell that out with all the zeros: $29,000,000. Can you imagine the CEO of your favorite non-profit, hell your favorite hedge fund, having the gall to command that type of salary?

And yet apparently only two people in Congress have a problem with the NFL's tax-dodging shell game. In September, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn introduced the PRO Sports Act (Senate Bill 1524) that would strip the NFL of its dubious "non-profit" distinction. The bill has languished for months in the Senate Finance Committee until this week when Senator Angus King of Maine became Coburn's first colleague to co-sponsor the bill. (It probably helps that neither Oklahoma nor Maine have an NFL team.)

"Most Americans would be shocked to learn of all the tax loopholes that companies and organizations are able to take advantage of to boost their bottom line and which end up costing taxpayers millions per year," King said in a statement Wednesday. "I like the NFL, but I don't think it's unfair to ask their central office to pay its share in taxes."

mccaskill_blunt.jpg
Will Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt stand up to the NFL?
To be sure, the NFL isn't the only sports league incorporated as a 501(c)(6) in order to dodge taxes. The NHL and PGA Tour and a few less popular sports do it, too. But it was the NFL that first got the tax exemption for sports leagues on the books. And it's the nation's wealthiest league that continues to nickel and dime the government while allowing taxpayers to pay the difference. Case in point, in a Q&A about his bill Senator Coburn notes how Indianapolis lost money while hosting the 2012 Super Bowl in part because league officials used the NFL's tax status to avoid paying local taxes. Meanwhile, the NFL has reportedly told the city of Santa Clara that if it wants to host a Super Bowl at the 49ers soon-to-open new stadium, it cannot tax the tickets because the NFL is a non-profit. Such a move that would deprive the Santa Clara of millions in revenue needed to host the Super Bowl.

See also: Rams Dome Proposal: Pop-Top Stadium, Glass Wall and No Price Tag

"Tax earmarks are essentially tax increases for everyone who doesn't receive the benefit," says Coburn of his bill. "In this case, working Americans are paying artificially high rates in order to subsidize special breaks for sports leagues."

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that the tax loophole for pro sports leagues is worth $10 million a year, and $109 million over a decade.

Yet where do Missouri senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt stand on this issue? With Rams owner Stan Kroenke asking St. Louis taxpayers to build him a new, $700 million stadium, perhaps they'd want to stand up and send a statement -- enough with the tax-funded handouts to billionaire team owners and the dubiously non-profit leagues that run them. But, hey, who wants to stand when there's still space on the couch? The Big Game is about to begin and McCaskill and Blunt probably have weightier questions on their minds. Like just how do you shovel that much guacamole into your gullet?

Follow the author on Twitter @chadgarrison. Email him at chad.garrison at riverfronttimes.com.

My Voice Nation Help
34 comments
Laura Dee
Laura Dee

NFL does not need our tax money to stay in business. If they do, they are managing their money like idiots and the whole thing /should/ go under like any other business.

Jesse Plan
Jesse Plan

It 's typical FAR left whining and crying. Try actually doing your research, RFT. The NFL does pay taxes, but through the teams, not the hierarchy, itself. Maybe your writers should try owning their own business or actually listening to an economics professor... Your newspaper is nothing more than a personal blog...

Lee Mikel
Lee Mikel

Solution. Don't watch football. Thing is, it's an American pastime...as well as capitalism...you really should be more worried about congress

Floyd Plymale
Floyd Plymale

It's not fair to pay taxes on the same money twice. Once at team level and once at the NFL level. Seems like a liberal money grab but that's just me.

Jesse Plan
Jesse Plan

And historically, how does raising the price of a product effect the amount of product sold?

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

no, they just pass the cost to consumers, like any other corporate giant.

Floyd Plymale
Floyd Plymale

The NFL receives money from TV deals, merchandise, etc... Then they evenly divide the funds between the teams and the teams pay the taxes.

Jesse Plan
Jesse Plan

So you're saying that the corporate giant, that is the NFL, wouldn't make cut-backs to compensate for lost revenue? I'm confused.

Rick Kohn
Rick Kohn

I doubt having the NFL pay taxes like you and I would have any significant trickle down effect. They'll still rake in millions and if anything, will jack up already outrageous ticket prices. If they want to be "America's sport', they should pay their fair share, like the NBA and MLB.

Scott Crothers
Scott Crothers

I wouldn't give a wooden nickel to anyone involved with this worthless sport.

Tiffany Newtson
Tiffany Newtson

Agree with Jesse. All those poor volunteers working directly with the NFL would lose their temporary, unpaid position! :-(

Jesse Plan
Jesse Plan

...That brings billions of dollars to each local economy, as well as tens of thousands of jobs, directly and indirectly (businesses close to the stadiums make their money off of fans.) I'm merely being the devil's advocate... Every change effects something else... Would you like to push for reform of the tax on the NFL? Even though it's "unethical" the amount of tax breaks the NFL gets, any change could effect the NFL as a whole, causing a "trickle-down" effect on local economies... Before your paper writes an article like this, think of the amount of families you could effect by forcing this "change."

Terry Zoll
Terry Zoll

Horrible! How can these greedy bastards look at themselves in the morning?

James Madison
James Madison

Pass some stupid law today, and wait for the unintentional consequences tomorrow. The non-profit status places many conditions on the NFL that a private, for-profit business would no longer have. Some can only see the money, and not the tangled web of laws they have made.

Ryan Graves
Ryan Graves

I believe the teams are taxable on the distributions. I would need to brush up on my sports Econ though.

Mike Campbell
Mike Campbell

I had no idea! Whom did the NFL bribe in 1966 to obtain this miscarriage to begin with?

James Wright
James Wright

I thought hospitals were not for profit, or at least tax exempt. They make tons of money.

JJ O'Brand
JJ O'Brand

If the owner is the benefactor, let them build.

JJ O'Brand
JJ O'Brand

TIF financing Dan Baumann Jr, states that is incorrect... That status should be held only for charitable organizations, who funny enough, don't get TIF $s... Churches, mosques, and synagogues do not belong under the 501c either.

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

yeah the christian churches,,,,,,they don`t pay taxes either so get off the NFL

Dan Baumann Jr
Dan Baumann Jr

People are unbelievably ignorant on this topic. They're a non-profit but not a charity. If they didn't have 501 (c) (6) status they'd STILL pay no taxes because they make zero money. The "NFL" doesn't make money - the owners of the individual teams do, and THEY PAY TAXES already on that money. So this is a non-issue and divisive for all the wrong reasons.

Shane Bowen
Shane Bowen

PGA and NHL, too? MLB pays taxes... Go Cards.

Laura Beard King
Laura Beard King

does the largest real estate holding conglomerate in the world pay tax?

Tarese Fox
Tarese Fox

I'm appalled. I never knew that about the NFL.

Chris Ferguson
Chris Ferguson

a lot of non-profits make plenty of $. What is worse than this is that taxpayers across the country foot the bill for stadiums for billionaire owners of NFL teams.

paylessjerseys.com
paylessjerseys.com topcommenter

Dear Boss

Congratulations on Seattle Seahawks has won the 2014 Super bowl XLVIII championship 

2014 Super bowl XLVIII Seattle Seahawks jerseys of stock on the market at present is not much, in order to ensure that you can get the Seattle Seahawks 2014 Super bowl XLVIII jerseys, please earlier to complete the order and payment in time;

In order to ensure that you can get 2014 Super bowl XLVIII Seattle Seahawks jerseys, we go to work early, you can order now

http://www.paylessjerseys.com

http://www.buyauthenticjerseywholesale.com


chad_garrison
chad_garrison moderator editor

Removing the 501(c)(6) status would in no way be double taxation. Most NFL teams likely already deduct their league dues from federal income taxes. And if the league office was restructured as for-profit (as Major League Baseball has done as recently as 2008), teams would still deduct league dues from their tax returns.

nobody
nobody

No the Catholic Church doesn't pay tax. 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...