The NFL is Fleecing Taxpayers & Have a Questionable Tax Status

Once again my “Mysterious Private Investigator” friend from Phoenix Arizona has alerted me to something that I feel, you must know.  Does the NFL have “Tax Exempt” status and WHY? The NFL makes TONS of money, what with selling tickets at games, merchandising, television air-time and let’s not forget all of those MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR salaries to guys that play a child’s game. Now I like football as much as the next guy, but this is “theft” straight-up!

Oh still think it’s not true..? Take a look at the documents.

Gregg Easterbrock wrote at “The Atlantic” in October of 2013 a piece titled How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers. Here’s a portion of that article, where he outlined a few instances of what’s been going on:

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Taxpayers fund the stadiums, antitrust law doesn’t to broadcast deals, the league enjoys nonprofit status, and Commissioner Roger Goodell makes $30 million a year. It’s time to stop the public giveaways to America’s richest sports league—and to the feudal lords who own its teams.

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“Last year was a busy one for public giveaways to the National Football League. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts.

Taxpayers in Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, were hit with a bill for $26 million in debt service for the stadiums where the NFL’s Bengals and Major League Baseball’s Reds play, plus another $7 million to cover the direct operating costs for the Bengals’ field. Pro-sports subsidies exceeded the $23.6 million that the county cut from health-and-human-services spending in the current two-year budget (and represent a sizable chunk of the $119 million cut from Hamilton County schools). Press materials distributed by the Bengals declare that the team gives back about $1 million annually to Ohio community groups. Sound generous? That’s about 4 percent of the public subsidy the Bengals receive annually from Ohio taxpayers.

In Minnesota, the Vikings wanted a new stadium, and were vaguely threatening to decamp to another state if they didn’t get it. The Minnesota legislature, facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit, extracted $506 million from taxpayers as a gift to the team, covering roughly half the cost of the new facility. Some legislators argued that the Vikings should reveal their finances: privately held, the team is not required to disclose operating data, despite the public subsidies it receives. In the end, the Minnesota legislature folded, giving away public money without the Vikings’ disclosing information in return. The team’s principal owner, Zygmunt Wilf, had a 2011 net worth estimated at $322 million; with the new stadium deal, the Vikings’ value rose about $200 million, by Forbes’s estimate, further enriching Wilf and his family. They will make a token annual payment of $13 million to use the stadium, keeping the lion’s share of all NFL ticket, concession, parking, and, most important, television revenues.

After approving the $506 million handout, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said, “I’m not one to defend the economics of professional sports … Any deal you make in that world doesn’t make sense from the way the rest of us look at it.” Even by the standards of political pandering, Dayton’s irresponsibility was breathtaking.

In California, the City of Santa Clara broke ground on a $1.3 billion stadium for the 49ers. Officially, the deal includes $116 million in public funding, with private capital making up the rest. At least, that’s the way the deal was announced. A new government entity, the Santa Clara Stadium Authority, is borrowing $950 million, largely from a consortium led by Goldman Sachs, to provide the majority of the “private” financing. Who are the board members of the Santa Clara Stadium Authority? The members of the Santa Clara City Council. In effect, the city of Santa Clara is providing most of the “private” funding. Should something go wrong, taxpayers will likely take the hit.

The 49ers will pay Santa Clara $24.5 million annually in rent for four decades, which makes the deal, from the team’s standpoint, a 40-year loan amortized at less than 1 percent interest. At the time of the agreement, 30-year Treasury bonds were selling for 3 percent, meaning the Santa Clara contract values the NFL as a better risk than the United States government.

Although most of the capital for the new stadium is being underwritten by the public, most football revenue generated within the facility will be pocketed by Denise DeBartolo York, whose net worth is estimated at $1.1 billion, and members of her family. York took control of the team in 2000 from her brother, Edward DeBartolo Jr., after he pleaded guilty to concealing an extortion plot by a former governor of Louisiana. Brother and sister inherited their money from their father, Edward DeBartolo Sr., a shopping-mall developer who became one of the nation’s richest men before his death in 1994. A generation ago, the DeBartolos made their money the old-fashioned way, by hard work in the free market. Today, the family’s wealth rests on political influence and California tax subsidies. Nearly all NFL franchises are family-owned, converting public subsidies and tax favors into high living for a modern-day feudal elite.

Pro-football coaches talk about accountability and self-reliance, yet pro-football owners routinely binge on giveaways and handouts. A year after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the Saints resumed hosting NFL games: justifiably, a national feel-good story. The finances were another matter. Taxpayers have, in stages, provided about $1 billion to build and later renovate what is now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. (All monetary figures in this article have been converted to 2013 dollars.) The Saints’ owner, Tom Benson, whose net worth Forbes estimates at $1.2 billion, keeps nearly all revenue from ticket sales, concessions, parking, and broadcast rights. Taxpayers even footed the bill for the addition of leather stadium seats with cup holders to cradle the drinks they are charged for at concession stands. And corporate welfare for the Saints doesn’t stop at stadium construction and renovation costs. 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 Benson from developing a wandering eye.

In NFL city after NFL city, this pattern is repeated. 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.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of six Super Bowls, the most of any franchise, play at Heinz Field, a glorious stadium that opens to a view of the serenely flowing Ohio and Allegheny Rivers. Pennsylvania taxpayers contributed about $260 million to help build Heinz Field—and to retire debt from the Steelers’ previous stadium. Most game-day revenues (including television fees) go to the Rooney family, the majority owner of the team. The team’s owners also kept the $75 million that Heinz paid to name the facility.”

You can read the full article here.

“USA Today” reported in December of 2013:

Liberal activists and Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, have found a common cause: Trying to strip the National Football League and several other professional sports organizations of their exemptions from paying federal taxes.

Rootstrikers, a group working to reduce the role of money in politics, is urging support of a Coburn bill that would bar sports leagues with annual revenue of more than $10 million from claiming tax-exempt status. More than 300,000 people, meanwhile, have signed on to a petition drive challenging the NFL’s tax status.

“Most people don’t know they are not-for-profit entities, and when people find out, it strikes them as ridiculous,” said Lynda Woolard, a New Orleans community activist who authored the petition. “We have a corporation running as a non-profit and getting the benefit of a non-profit but not acting in the public good.”

The professional sports groups defend their status and note that the exemptions apply only to league offices. The NFL’s 32 teams, for instance, pay taxes on their revenues.

The NFL alone has spent more than $5 million on federal lobbying since Jan. 1, 2010, federal records show.

“If you are in a state that has a pro football league or runs a pro golf tournament, the career politicians are afraid to touch it,” Coburn said this week, as he unveiled his annual “Wastebook.”

“That $100 million that we are giving to that very elite group of people in the front office of these major leagues is money you are paying in taxes to make it up,” he said.

After reading all of the articles and looking at the tax documents, it kind of makes you feel stupid to think that the tickets for Super Bowl sell for THOUSANDS of dollars. The way I see it, I think the NFL could afford to “comp” all of the tickets for this year’s game…don’t you?

That would be a good start – wouldn’t it?

People need to be made aware as to where their tax dollars are being spent and by whom. This has been going on for years, and the big question is WHY does the NFL need tax exempt status? Obama has made such a big deal about CEO’s that make big salaries, chances are a few of those “fat cats” started in the mail room and worked and clawed their way to the top and have earned every penny of their salaries. But how can the NFL justify their need to be tax exempt, all the while there are still conservative organizations who deserve it and have not received it?

I don’t care what side of the fence you are on, this is just wrong.

Enjoy the game folks…because chances are –  YOU’RE paying for it !

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