The GOP tax plan unveiled Thursday by Republican members of the House reportedly contains a provision that would prevent professional sports teams, including the NFL, from taking advantage of tax-exempt municipal bonds, a government service usually reserved for local communities.
“Generally used for roads, hospitals and the like, a number of communities have extended them to help out sports teams, usually as a way of enticing a team to stay in a community,” The Washington Timesreported. “Axing the break would save $200 million over the next decade, according to early estimates.”
As reported by Reuters, “(o)f the 16 NFL stadiums built or renovated from 2000 through 2014, 13 were financed in part by tax-exempt bonds with an average financing worth $360.2 million.” The total costs of these bonds was an estimated $3.7 billion.
The provision included in the GOP’s tax bill would affect all sports teams, including those in the MLB and the NHL. Similar resolutions could wind up being added to the tax bill as well later down the road.
Speaking in late October on “Fox and Friends,” Rep. Matt Gaetz shared his plan to add a provision to the tax reform bill that would eliminate tax loopholes for any NFL teams that protest the national anthem, according to Newsmax.
“I don’t think that the millionaires and billionaires associated with professional sports ought to get a special tax break that’s not available to the regular small businesses and regular folks in my district and across America,” the Florida Republican said.
“If there are players with concerns about racial inequality or the criminal justice system, rather than taking a knee, how about they take a stand and actually advocate for some proposals that they think might improve quality of life for people?” he added.
In a statement published in September, Gaetz added further details about the benefits enjoyed by the NFL.
“The NFL League Office has received a special tax carveout since 1966, when the tax code first listed ‘professional football leagues’ as trade organizations,” the statement read. “Though individual teams are not tax-exempt, the NFL League Office is.”
His remarks seem to go along with the sentiment of President Donald Trump, who has lashed out at the NFL over its ongoing national anthem protests by highlighting the “massive tax breaks” it receives.
Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 10, 2017
PolitiFact, a fact-checking site believed by many to possess a liberal bias, has disputed some of this, though, claiming “the NFL decided to drop the not-for-profit status in 2015 and file regular taxes.”
It rated Trump’s tweet “Mostly True” anyway because of the tax-exempt municipal bonds that, incidentally, the GOP bill unveiled Thursday seeks to eliminate.
“Since 2015, the NFL hasn’t benefitted (sic) from a not-for-profit tax break enjoyed by many professional sports league offices,” PolitiFact concluded.
“However, it does enjoy tax exemptions on municipal bonds used to build stadiums. Other sports leagues also benefit from this tax code loophole, sometimes to a greater extent.”