Monday, September 22, 2014

The NFL and the IRS

Did you know that the NFL pays no taxes? That's right. Despite being a business conglomerate that generates roughly $10 BILLION a year in revenue, the league offices themselves are considered a non-profit organization. Kind of like your average church. Praise the Lord and pass the offering plate.

To be fair, the individual teams themselves don't enjoy the same tax-free status, and certainly not the coaches and players. They have to pony up to the IRS like the rest of us schmucks, but millionaire and billionaire schmucks can afford to hire schmuckish financial people to find loopholes, whereby we run-of-the-mill schmucks always wind up getting stuck with the full tab. You've heard of SNAFU? This is SNASU. Situation Normal, All Schmucked UP. Ahem.

But obviously it's good to be King, or Pope, or Roger Goodell and company. In other words, in charge. Let the peons worry about paying taxes, bless their ignorant little hearts and accessible wallets. We shall remain above it all, while living in the lap of luxury.

Though many would find the above outrageous, it only begins to touch on the incredible hypocrisy that continues to go on. Let's look a little deeper.....

The NFL was originally granted its tax exempt status as a "trade organization" way back in 1942, when it was only a fledgling league. They were given a break by the revenuers so they "might further promote the interests of the game". But let's get real. Nobody was paying attention to such shenanigans back then. In 1942, the USA, from coast to coast, was totally consumed gearing up for World War II. Pearl Harbor was fresh in their minds, hence few noticed or cared about some tax loophole for a sports league nobody paid much attention to anyway.

But times have obviously changed in the ensuing 72 years. The NFL long ago bypassed baseball as the gorilla in the room of America sports. Despite only playing a 16 game regular season schedule -- as opposed to MLB's 162 -- the gridders STILL outearn the boys of summer. They don't need a "trade organization" to promote the interests of the game. It's already everywhere -- and a cash cow to boot. Good grief, the Commish himself, Goodell, made a whopping $44 million last year.

The hypocrisy goes even further. One would think every American professional sports league should be treated the same when it comes to the tax man. One couldn't be more wrong.

The PGA enjoys the same tax-exempt status as the NFL. As does the NHL. Major League Baseball did for many years, but when a couple tenacious fact-finders started probing into the earnings of MLB executives, in order to make them public knowledge -- the league decided it would rather give up its tax exempt status back in 2008 rather than have their financial souls bared to the masses. Make of that what you will.

To top it off -- the NBA has NEVER had such an exemption.

So..... evidently it's OK for football, golf , and hockey, not OK for basketball, and baseball changed its mind when given a choice between transparency and paying taxes.

Only a fool would think the NFL's free tax ride is going to change any time soon. It would take an act of Congress signed by the President to do so. And that's not likely to happen. Not long ago, a well-meaning Congressman put forth such a bill in the interest of fairness. After all, why should the fans that pay for it all continue to get dinged with taxes, while the league office of top executives continues to get an exemption? That bill went nowhere. Never even it made it out of the committee stage.

It doesn't take a genius to figure out why. Amongst other things, the NFL itself spends upwards of $40 million a year retaining the services of various lobbyists. Their main law firm is located just down the road from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Put in the "right" hands for the wrong reasons, that kind of dough can twist a lot of legislative arms when it comes to not changing the current tax code. In short, it ain't gonna happen.

Of course it's wrong. And of course it's hypocritical. And of course double-standards continue to abound. But that's the American way. Money not only talks, but buys special privileges to make even MORE money.

Will your truly stop watching NFL games because of this? Hell no. I wouldn't miss Sundays, and Monday and Thursday night action for all the girls in Hef's mansion -- or even my high school sweetie -- showing up at my door ready for some action. Not that I'd likely live through either -- but what a way to go.

Nevertheless, it still doesn't make the tax shenanigans right......

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