Senator Coburn is looking into whether the NFL should remain tax exempt.
As we have said before sports is particularly rife with crony capitalism because people take leave of their senses when it comes to “their team.” This is almost as true in college athletics as it is in the pro ranks. Quite a lot of taxpayer money goes into fielding many state university football teams. Very few teams operate at a profit.
But the NFL sits particularly pretty. Between the special breaks and outright subsidies often given to team owners in stadium deals, and the NFL’s tax exempt status, we’re glad someone is looking into things.
The tax burden should be lessened for everyone. But it should be lessened for everyone.
The NFL’s exemption has a long history. Section 501(c)(6) was amended following the AFL-NFL merger in 1966 to include “professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players),” language to make clear that the league was still qualified under the section, despite paying pension benefits to individuals. However, professional sports leagues were already qualified under that section prior to the additional language. Major League Baseball has since given up its exemption, in 2007, reportedly because of changes to the code that required disclosure of executive salaries. The NBA has never been tax exempt.