NFL's tax-exempt status is again under fire in Congress

Mon Mar 9, 2015 7:06pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON xx (Reuters) - Congressman Jason Chaffetz insists his bid to overturn the NFL's decades-old tax-exempt status has nothing to do with political posturing or electioneering.

And the Utah Republican says his campaign to get rid of the tax break is not motivated by the recent travails of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has been excoriated for turning a blind eye to domestic abuse by some of his players.

"It's an issue of basic fairness," Chaffetz, his palms turned upward, said in an interview. "The National Football League should have to pay taxes like everybody else."

The teams that comprise the NFL, boasting some $10 billion in annual revenues, pay taxes on their profits, as well as on merchandise and player salaries. But because it's listed a non-profit trade or industry association, the league's head office gets a free pass.

Chaffetz, a 47-year-old firebrand who became chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee in January, wants that to change.

Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code lists "professional football leagues" as deserving of tax-exempt status, a vestige of legislative wrangling that helped the NFL and its upstart rival, the American Football League, merge in 1966.

The result is the NFL's status is comparable to that of the Chamber of Commerce when it comes to taxation.

"It doesn't pass the laugh test of being something that's a not-for-profit trade association," said Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a federal budget watchdog organization. "There's no evidence the NFL would collapse without this exemption."   Continued...

Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) (L) speaks with Trey Gowdy (R-SC) (R)  on Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. October 10, 2012. REUTERS/Jose Luis Magana