By Ken Reed

NFL’s Tax-Exempt Status Threatened

Here’s a good deal if you can find one: The NFL takes in $9.5 billion a year and all of it is exempt from federal taxes. The NFL is the greatest sports-entertainment enterprise ever created but somehow qualifies for non-profit tax-exempt status.

The NFL is legally designated an “industry association,” like chambers of commerce and real estate boards. In a recent survey, only 13% of Americans knew the NFL qualified as a not-for-profit.

Senators Tom Coburn (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) recently introduced a bill to remove the league’s not-for-profit status.

“This is a directed tax cut to the league office, which means every other American pays a little bit more every year because we give the NFL league office a tax break and call them a non-profit,” says Coburn. “In fact, they’re not.”

Legislators Go After Redskins Name

The NFL is receiving pressure on another front from legislators. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) recently sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calling for a name change for the NFL’s Washington D.C. franchise. Cantwell is chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, while Cole is a senior member of the appropriations committee — and a member of the Chickasaw Nation. In their letter, the lawmakers call the Redskins nickname “racially offensive.”

“The National Football League can no longer ignore this and perpetuate the use of this name as anything but what it is: a racial slur,” the letter stated.

The letter went on to state that Goodell and the NFL are “on the wrong side of history.”

NFL Feels Pressure to Stop Exploiting Volunteers

The NFL is also getting some heat in another area. For years, the NFL and MLB have used volunteers in local cities for their premier events: baseball’s All-Star Game and football’s Super Bowl.

Approximately 9,000 volunteers were used in the New Jersey/New York area for the most recent Super Bowl. That number was way down from what at one time was expected to be 40,000 volunteers.

The reason for the drop is that the NFL decided to hire some temporary paid workers in place of volunteers after MLB was sued for not paying volunteers at their All-Star Game FanFest last year.

According to Alfred Kelly, the chief executive of the New York-New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee, litigation against Major League Baseball led the host committee to reduce the number of volunteers it sought.

“The fact of the matter is that after the All-Star Game and Major League Baseball being sued, the NFL decided for this Super Bowl to go in a different direction,” he said.

The NFL takes in nearly $10 billion a year but has annually relied on thousands of volunteers vs. paid workers at its marquee event. This year’s volunteers were required to sign a waiver stating that they wouldn’t become part of any potential class-action lawsuit.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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