In 1966 Congress allowed the NFL to qualify for 501(c) tax exempt status. Ever since then, while the NFL now generates $9.5 billion in annual revenue, they pay no federal taxes. The NFL's league office calls itself a trade association "promoting the interests" of its 32 teams. This is a bit like McDonalds calling itself a trade association and "promoting the interests" of its 14,000 U.S. restaurants.
Though Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal claims to be an anti-spending conservative, each year the state of Louisiana forcibly extracts up to $6 million from its residents’ pockets and gives the cash to Benson as an “inducement payment”—the actual term used—to keep [New Orleans Saints owner Tom] Benson from developing a wandering eye.And this:
CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks play, opened in 2002, with Washington State taxpayers providing $390 million of the $560 million construction cost. The Seahawks, owned by Paul Allen, one of the richest people in the world, pay the state about $1 million annually in rent in return for most of the revenue from ticket sales, concessions, parking, and broadcasting (all told, perhaps $200 million a year). Average people are taxed to fund Allen’s private-jet lifestyle.I am an obsessive follower of stadium news, and one of my favorite blogs, Field of Schemes, tracks these depressing developments on a daily basis. But every once in a while, I learn something that deepens my disgust over public subsidies to asshole billionaires. Like this:
That’s right—extremely profitable and one of the most subsidized organizations in American history, the NFL also enjoys tax-exempt status. On paper, it is the Nonprofit Football League.The NFL is a non-profit organization. A non-profit that pays its top five executives $60 million annually. A non-profit organization that sucks in public subsidies by the billions, then patting itself in the back when it returns a few hundred thousand back to community groups. A non-profit organization that continues to try and deceive the public that is enriching it, leading to absurd situations like his one:
The NFL asked Congress to grant pro football a waiver from the disclosure rule. During the lobbying battle, Joe Browne, then the league’s vice president for public affairs, told The New York Times, “I finally get to the point where I’m making 150 grand, and they want to put my name and address on the [disclosure] form so the lawyer next door who makes a million dollars a year can laugh at me.” Browne added that $150,000 does not buy in the New York area what it would in “Dubuque, Iowa.” The waiver was denied. Left no option, the NFL revealed that at the time, Browne made about $2 million annually.Seriously, what a bunch of leeches.
I love football and the NFL. My other big career move was founding this. But it's way past time cities and states stop getting pillaged by billionaire team owners, building stadiums that host 10 (and maybe 12, if a team is really lucky) games a year. Football is profitable enough on its owns that fans could fund anything a team owner desires. There's no excuse, particularly in these times of austerity, for precious public dollars to be spent on the sports entertainment complex. (And all of this applies to MLB and NBA owners too.)
The Superbowl is the biggest television event of the year and the NFL is one of the most profitable enterprises in the world—but the NFL enjoys non-profit status thanks to a congressional statute.
Taxpayers pay for NFL teams in other ways, too—state and local governments regularly subsidize teams to build and upgrade facilities, and the league’s hugely lucrative TV deals are exempt from antitrust laws.
Revoking the NFL’s non-profit status is not controversial—even Tea Party Republicans like Sen. Jason Chaffetz of Utah agree that the NFL is a for-profit entity receiving unfair tax breaks. Now, we just need to make sure Congress does something about it. Sign this petition too.
- Super Bowl Sunday is when only the top 1% can get a ticket to the game.
- Super Bowl Sunday is the party of the year for the top 1% when they gather together to celebrate their wealth.
- Super Bowl Sunday is made possible by taxpayer-funded arenas for corporations that have non-profit tax exempt status.
- Super Bowl Sunday is when air traffic is backed up in every airport in the country, because so many private jets have taken to the sky.
I'll take Denver and under.