Despite making more than $250 million per year, the NFL is considered a nonprofit — so they don’t pay a dime in taxes. It’s been that way for half a century, thanks to a tax code that includes “chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade, and professional football leagues.”
So whether we buy tickets to the game or not, every American is paying more in taxes to cover the NFL’s missing share of the pot.
“It’s a scandal that I can’t understand why people aren’t marching in the streets over, I suppose,” said Gregg Easterbrook, author of the new book The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America, in an interview with NPR.
How We Subsidize Football
As NFL honchos are quick to point out, the nonprofit status only applies to the NFL headquarters, so the $9 billion per year earned from ticket, merchandise and advertising sales can still be taxed. But the records are murky at best, with little to no disclosure on how much NFL teams may benefit from subsidies.
If you live in a city with a football team, you probably help pay for them to play. One estimate from Judith Grant Long of Harvard reveals that taxpayers shoulder about 70 percent of the costs of stadiums.
In total, Easterbrook claims taxpayers fork over $1 billion per year to subsidize football.
Whether you love football or couldn’t care less about the sport, it’s hard to justify asking taxpayers to subsidize an entertainment giant like the NFL. That’s why Linda Woolard of New Orleans, a football fan herself, has started a petition on Change.org to revoke their tax-exempt status. Here’s an excerpt:
The NFL should pay their fair share towards our economy! Just like Major League Baseball, which gave up its nonprofit status in recent years, as well as the National Basketball Association, the NFL should not be able to hide under a nonprofit status in order to avoid paying federal taxes.
If you agree, you can sign the petition online. I did, because I believe that it’s time for the U.S. government to stop granting favors for hugely profitable organizations and start focusing on the needs of the people.