The Super Bowl, on a financial level, is a massive cash-cow. As is the NFL in general, with billions of annual profits that continue to rise each year. Why then, is the NFL officially recognized as a 501(c)6 non-profit?
In 1966, the league was granted such status following its merger with the American Football League. A 501(c)6 typically refers to trade-organizations. Other notable 501(c)6 organizations are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the NHL and the PGA.
Make no mistake; this does not mean the NFL is entirely tax free. Each of the 32 franchises pay taxes on revenue, and the league pays taxes on TV deals, game-tickets and league merchandising. The league office itself is tax exempt, and politicians such as Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Coburn (R-Ok), and Jason Chaffetz (R-Ut) have voiced concerns over giving the most profitable sports league in history any tax breaks.
We couldn’t agree more. Taxpayers are losing $10 million a year from the NFL’s exemption, a small amount relative to the federal budget, although the dollar amount is beside the point. The main issue is the principle at stake. No massively profitable industry (one that paid its commissioner $44 million last year) should be granted an exemption that taxpayers ultimately pay for.
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