Urge the NFL to Start Paying Taxes

Super Bowl XLVII

Target: Daniel Werfel, United States Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner

Goal: Revoke the National Football League’s tax-exempt status

America’s football league is the most profitable in the world, bringing in more than $9 billion in 2013. Be that as it may, the league office itself pays no Federal taxes, thanks to its designation as a tax exempt trade association. The National Football League, known better as the NFL, funnels proceeds from its merchandising, TV contracts and ticket sales back to the teams it oversees where profits can then be taxed–but not before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is paid his $29 million annual salary, tripled in recent years.

No, the NFL isn’t a “charity,” but it could hardly be called not-for-profit, either. According to the Internal Revenue Service (or IRS), “the principal purpose of a 501 (c) 6 is promoting an entire industry or profession or sport.” Is this truly the case for the NFL? In contrast, neither the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball claim tax exempt status.

Each football team pays the NFL $250 million in membership dues, making up the bulk of league office’s revenue. Fans can pay hundreds of dollars for tickets to see their teams compete, and millions are made in network television contracts. Yet every year, Americans pay more in taxes to offset exemptions for the NFL and other special interests. Tell the IRS to end football’s free ride, and revoke the NFL’s tax exempt status today.


Dear Daniel Werfel, United States Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner,

Each year the National Football League generates billions of dollars through its membership dues, TV contracts and ticket sales. Merchandise and fantasy football add to its empire. Yet the NFL office remains a 501 (c) 6 tax exempt entity. How can this be reconciled, in the face of a still-recovering economy?

Other sports leagues profit and thrive despite such special designation. Major League Baseball voluntarily gave up their tax exempt status in 2007, and the National Basketball Association has never claimed such status. Why, then, should the most profitable football league in the world? And if the NFL’s dreams come true, revenues will more than double in coming years because of re-negotiated TV and labor contracts, and the possible creation of its own mobile network. This is not an organization whose primary purpose is merely sports promotion.

While in truth much of the NFL’s $9 billion in annual revenues is funneled back to the teams themselves, and later taxed, the league’s Commissioner is paid upwards of $29 million a year by a tax-exempt entity. An entity just settling in to its swank new $35.9 million office in Manhattan. Americans demand tax fairness. Revoke the NFL’s tax-exempt status without further delay.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Au Kirk via Wikimedia

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