Did You Know The NFL Has Tax-Exempt Status?

It’s Superbowl time!

I have been a big sports fan….especially football….my entire life, but I have to admit that sometimes the sports world really blows my mind and just leaves me shaking my head. Did you know that the NFL has tax exempt status?? True story.

The National Football League, one of the most massively profitable organizations on the planet is legally classified as a tax-free non-profit. Seriously. It’s written into federal law, allowing the NFL to be completely exempt from paying any federal taxes. But, at the same time, the teams are all getting huge contributions from their state and local governments, very profitable TV deals, and other perks.

This tax exempt status is nothing new for the NFL. It goes all the way back to 1966, when the NFL merged with the old American Football League. The law was passed back then allowing professional football leagues 501(c)(6) status as tax exempt trade organizations.

This 501(c)(6) status is giving them a get out of jail free card for local and state taxes too. That means that employees of the NFL don’t have to pay sales tax or state income taxes. Not a bad gig if you can get it, right??

And this is not unique to the NFL. In the nearly 50 years since, other professional sports franchises have also used this tax exempt status. The PGA and NHL have similar situations, although neither of them have a specific federal law. Major League Baseball used to have this same non-profit tax-free status, but in 2007, they gave it up.

In Atlanta, where I live, we just built a brand new stadium for the Falcons to play. But here’s the thing, the local tax payers here are footing the bill for a huge chunk of the new stadium. For real. When the owner of the team itself doesn’t pay a dime in taxes. I love football, but come on, this is some serious BS.

In 2015 the NFL did what most people believed to be a PR stunt and said they were giving up their tax-exempt status. It is now an “antitrust exemption.”

Michael Leeds, a professor of economics at Temple University in Philadelphia, wrote to The Huffington Post in an email:

“I have never known the NFL to give away money without some larger objective in mind. PR seems to be a weak reed, and a notoriously short-lived one. Given the heat they’ve take over executive compensation, pay opacity might be a more reasonable motivation.”

One of the big things that changed with their new status is they no longer have to disclose how much they are paying their top employees, which still seems shady.

Dude, if you’re not paying taxes, the least you could do is throw in free beer at the games. WTF.


Mindy Fischer Mindy Fischer is a lefty-liberal, freelance political writer. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Mindy Fischer

Mindy Fischer

Mindy Fischer is a lefty-liberal, freelance political writer. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter.
Mindy Fischer