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Utah's Jason Chaffetz introduces bill to tax NFL

Published January 30, 2014 6:52 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • The National Football League — the highly profitable and most popular sports organization in the United States — has nonprofit status and therefore is not taxable.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, has a bill to change that and he timed its introduction to fall on the NFL's Super Bowl week.

His bill, which piggy-backs on the proposal of Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., would eliminate the nonprofit status of all professional sports organizations, which also includes the National Hockey League and the Professional Golfers Association. Each team in the NFL and NHL pays federal taxes, but the leagues themselves do not.

"In reality, the NFL and the NHL are for-profit businesses, and they should be taxed as such," Chaffetz said. "They are not charities nor are they traditional trade organizations like local chambers of commerce."

He estimates that if passed, this proposal would raise more than $10 million each year, which he hopes would become part of a broader tax-reform proposal.

The National Basketball Association isn't tax exempt and Major League Baseball gave up its tax-exempt status in 2007.

The NFL has defended its tax-exempt status, saying that the league offices are akin to chambers of commerce, dues come in and expenses go out.

The pro football league has lobbied heavily to keep that nonprofit status. According to the Sunlight Foundation, the NFL's political action committee has handed out more than $1 million in campaign contributions since 2011, split fairly evenly between the political parties.