Bread and Circus continues: Congress allows NFL to retain tax-exempt status

You probably didn’t know that the NFL is a tax-exempt organization. Well, it is. Which means that, in effect, it is sponsored by the federal government. It really makes no sense that the NFL should be tax-exempt. It is not a ministry or a charity or a small business needing a financial break. It is obviously a for-profit enterprise. In 2011, the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell, made about 30 million clams. That’s insane.

According to the Bleacher Report, the NFL’s non-profit status

is why teams can find ways to secure public funds for the building of stadiums and receive property tax breaks on the land on which they are built. It’s why you won’t go one Sunday in September without seeing a few Play 60 commercials sponsored by the league.

The bottom line is that whether you watch the NFL or not (I am more of a college football man myself), you are paying for it with your taxes. Consider this situation, reported on by The Atlantic:

Taxpayers in Hamilton County, Ohio, which includes Cincinnati, were hit with a bill for $26 million in debt service for the stadiums where the NFL’s Bengals and Major League Baseball’s Reds play, plus another $7 million to cover the direct operating costs for the Bengals’ field. Pro-sports subsidies exceeded the $23.6 million that the county cut from health-and-human-services spending in the current two-year budget (and represent a sizable chunk of the $119 million cut from Hamilton County schools). Press materials distributed by the Bengals declare that the team gives back about $1 million annually to Ohio community groups. Sound generous? That’s about 4 percent of the public subsidy the Bengals receive annually from Ohio taxpayers.

When I first heard about this, I wondered why our civil government would be interested in supporting sports. Then it hit me: bread and circuses. Our modern version looks like food stamps and football, but the effect is the same. As long as you keep the people fed and entertained, you can do what you want with the reins of power. And that is exactly what’s going on.

89 responses

  1. And the congressmen get how many club seats on the 50 yard line per season?
    It would be my luck that my district would be where the Texans or the Browns (the two worst teams in the league this season) play!

  2. How the F is the NFL tax exempt and hard working Citizens of this country are not?!?!?! Exempt Citizens and tax superfluous entities like the NFL. They don’t provide our freedom, protect us, teach us, shelter us or put food on our tables. They are completely optional and recreational. No one needs the NFL to survive.

    • Unfortunately the “government” needs the NFL to survive. Without the ability to redirect the attention of the public the government couldn’t get away with all of the scams they foist on us daily. It truly is bread and circus on a par with the Romans of long ago and we all know what happened to Rome.

      • Yes, we must have our EMOTIONAL OUTLET – PLEASE and ENTERTAINMENT will keep us happily distracted. In fact kids today know MORE about ENTERTAINMENT than core subjects! How nice!

        • Kids, it is OLD PEOPLE who RUN to vote Democrat, all the politicians/leftist media have to do is say the Tea Party is taking away your SS & they panic. Next time some old a s s claims the Democrats will save SS ask them how many Republicans have taken it away from them?
          Also OLD MEN LOVE their FOOTBALL & Victoria’s Secret commercials, ask the over 40 crowd about politics & then ask them who Miley Cyrus is screwing, bet you get the same answers as you would from the under 40 crowd.

          • It’s old white dudes who are the chief supporters of the tea party and sites like this, isn’t it?

      • You are absolutely right about government distracting us. Our government distracts us with phony asbestos scares, mercury scares, in the 70s global cooling scares with a coming ice age, caffeinated coffee scares(it’s good, it’s bad, it’s good, it’s bad), popcorn cooked with coconut oil scares in the 90s, oil shortage scares, hole in the ozone scares (haven’t heard about that lately), global warming scares with the oceans raising, climate change scares with whatever the weather is, etc. Healthcare was never a scare anybody until Obamacare. Now it is a legitimate scare. The scare now days is obesity. Seems only the government is worried about your waistline and using Obamacare they now have a tool to control your life. While the fools are worrying about all the scares the politicians are free to bilk us from every penny we have. Free country? Try not paying your taxes on everything you supposedly own including the air you breathe or water you drink and see what happens to you.

    • THIS is why both Republicans, Democrats & the leftist propaganda machine media HATE the Tea Party. Business as usual is VERY PROFITABLE for those in power, Cruz, Paul, Lee & a few others threaten the good old boys network that keeps these career LEECHES/CRIMINALS in power & their corporate donors fat & happy.
      Tea Party stands for TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY. It represents upper middle & middle class TAXPAYING Americans that are SICK of getting RA P ED by Wall Street & career politicians. It is THAT SIMPLE, when attacked ask the brain dead masses WHY they oppose those that are trying to eradicate CRIMINALS in DC?

  3. N F L>>>>>>>> NATIONAL FELONS LEAGUE!!!!!!!!!!!!



    • Ex-pat is a pedophile who got kicked out of the Army for sucking a little Thai boy’s pen1s.

      Now he lives overseas in Thailand and plots against the Federal
      Government that told him he couldn’t have sex with little boys. He is a
      card carryin’ member of NAMBLA.

      At least he has a hobby, listening to Rush Limbaugh and playing with his gray haired prolapsed @sshole all day.

  4. The only observation I can make is that the NFL is a state religion. Where else do you find zealous people who will do just about anything, including in the destruction that follows the victory over their enemies. They learn their stats as though it were religious writ and a lot of the fans are so fanatical that anyone who disagrees with the stats they will attack. Sad really for I do believe the Romans had something similar. As definitions the one that fits it closest is “Religion”.

  5. This can be easily verified, tax exempted organizations must provide a financial form at request for public knowledge and can be verified by IRS, the State and City which they reside, That’s how I understand it, Happy hunting.

  6. I’m sure Boehner and Ryan are just glowing! Pleasure and entertainment TRUMP our MILITARY! Yes, we cut the pensions of those that served in the MILITARY and give ENTERTAINMENT – the NFL – TAX EXEMPT STATUS. See where the priorities are? Hmmm. Screw the MILITARY and wink at ENTERTAINMENT/PLEASURE.

  7. Seems like it’s in the “too big to fail” category. I don’t understand why it’s exempt — it makes millions of $, perhaps billions, and pays nothing to the government. Moreover, most teams get a sweetheart deal like this from their cities and states, too.

    Bread and circuses, indeed!

    What about MLB and the NBA? Are they tax exempt, too?

  8. now we know how and why the NFL gets away with its over-priced tickets and over priced parking fees, its a double whammy to the citizens, boycott their games and watch them on tv only

  9. ghetto football league. How come when the ghetto boys make a routine tackle they run around “look ma” well get the hell in there and make more tackles, shut up and stop the celebratin’. Useless commish makes $28 mil/yr. Promised he’d investigate cheating, ….too much of it? Nothing. Horrible. 30 guys arrested since the last super bowl.

      • So, brain dead media matters troll, you LIKE multi millionaires receiving tax exempt status while YOU get taxed out your brain dead a s s? You LIKE politicians climbing in bed with billion $$ corporations while the middle class is completely decimated? The Tea Party stands for TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY, it is made up of upper middle & middle class Americans that are SICK of ELITIST, CORRUPT POLITICIANS TAXING us to DEATH. WHY do you DEFEND the politicians that are making MILLIONS off of the backs of taxpayers?
        Do YOU want to have a private jet, limos, eat at expensive restaurants & have several personal chefs, tickets to major sporting events, lavish vacations & an unending money supply all provided by HARD WORKING AMERICAN TAXPAYERS? WHY do you WANT a RULING CLASS, move to India if you like a cast system.

        • Chill dude, you’re gonna bust a valve. Dig this: the average Fox News viewer is 65. The average life expectancy is 75. In 50 years-do the math. Tea Party gone bye-bye.

          • That is good. There is still hope for you. I actually had my head up a dark place too when I was your age but then I got a job and went out into the real world and changed my attitude. I really hope it happens for you & I mean that in only the best way.

      • The NFL probably will be, but I’ll bet the USA won’t be. Over $100T in actual debt and unfunded liabilities, and $1T a year in new debt – something’s gotta give, and it’s gonna be ugly when it does. What will happen when all those people receiving government checks stop getting them? Do you think we can keep printing money forever? The Chinese yuan just moved to #2 currency in the world, and they are actively working to make it the world reserve currency. Once that happens (and it will happen), the game is up. But at least we’ll still have the Super Bowl, if we can afford the electricity to watch it on TV.

        • That is the same apocalyptic argument I hear all the time and it is not totally without merit. I will know that you are sincere when you accept reductions in Medicare and Social Security, which are the real deficit drivers. Why should a millionaire receive Social Security benefits? Why should a 95 year old get a Medicare-funded double bypass? Until you address these issues, you Tea Party Folks will have no credibility at all.

          • Why should a millionaire receive benefits? Well, if you subscribe to the idea that SS is insurance (which it isn’t, but that’s most people’s impression), then the answer is because he paid into it. If you say it’s NOT insurance, then I say that you just stole from him (took what he earned and gave it to someone else). I have a problem with that because I don’t trust the people who get to decide those things (politicians, aka crooks), and they invariably are taking money from one person and giving it to another in an effort to gain votes. Why should 95 year old get bypass? Well, because I don’t trust YOU or anyone else but ME to decide what is best for me medically. Or how about because the government FORCED him into Medicare, and then told him he couldn’t have the procedure he needed? When the government gets to decide when you are no longer valuable, how is that different than slavery? (When slaves became too old to produce, they were either sold off or killed.) You really want your government to decide when you get to live and when you get to die? How come if the government withholds medical care to an old person and he dies, it’s a good thing? But if a family member withholds the same care, it’s murder. Hypocrites.

          • Yeah that’s about what I expected. Didn’t think you could make the tough choices. Tea Party credibility on spending plus $1 will buy me a lottery ticket. But you have no problem cutting programs that mostly benefit minorities & kids, right?

          • I would cut the same programs that my parents are on – it has nothing to do with age or race or gender or anything else; it’s ONLY about government theft. (I wrote a letter to the SSA and told them they could keep all the money they have stolen from me and I won’t ask for a penny when I’m 67, if they would just let me out now. Surprise, they told me “NO!” They need my money to keep the Ponzi scheme going.) Since when did it become my responsibility to support someone else’s kids/parents/etc? If it’s MY responsibility, then what is THEIR responsibility? I would (and have and do) donate to charity to help the needy, but I have a problem with forced charity (aka wealth redistribution). I support myself and my kids and my parents…I don’t ask YOU to do that for me. The other problem I have is who gets to decide who is “needy”. You have no problem taking money from me and giving it to the people YOU proclaim as needy, but what about the people I decide? Why do you think the government that spies on you and takes away your freedoms every day and wastes your tax dollars is so great? Are you one of those who GETS money from the government (in other words, ME)? That WOULD explain your support…….

          • CB, everything you have said is nothing but Tea Party propaganda. Turn off Fox News & think for yourself. The Tea Party isn’t about spending as I’ve discussed above. Federal spending has been off the rails since Martin Van Buren’s administration and you folks don’t get organized until we have our first African-American president. Isn’t that odd? Yeah I’ll say it: The Tea Party is all about race and White Power. You don’t want to give up or even share the power you’ve held for generations. Am I wrong? Search images for “Tea Party Rally” and tell me where the nonwhites are. And to answer your last question: I have been a loyal Government employee for 30 years and quite proud of it, thank you.

          • So because black people are 85% Democrats and choose not to come to a TP rally, that makes the TP racist? You sound like a government employee – brainwashed. You know, since YOU brought it up, African Americans are in the worst possible position to be in. They vote Democrat almost without fail, so the Republicans don’t do anything to try to cater to their interests since they know they won’t get the black vote anyway. The Democrats KNOW they already have the black vote, so they don’t cater to them either. But blacks faithfully believe the idiotic Dem propaganda and vote Dem anyway. What do they get out of it? Higher unemployment, lower family income, 50% youth unemployment, etc. You blame that on the white people (in itself racist – would you admit that the black community has ANY accountability for that situation?), but what has our first (half)black president done to help the AA community? NOTHING! Because he KNOWS he has that vote. By the way, I opposed SS LONG before the TP even was a thought. On another note, do you really believe we can go on with a trillion dollar a year deficit? I have not heard a single Dem even mention how to get control of this problem. Our idiot president says raising the debt ceiling isn’t going into more debt, and the idiots believe him. If you add more debt to your entire debt load, how ISN’T that going into more debt. I think YOU are the one that needs to start thinking, and stop believing your government cares about you.

          • Amidst all of the warmed over Tea-Party oatmeal, I did detect a few nuggets of truth. But the problem is that you folks don’t see the contradiction in your own positions. You rail against government spending, but won’t make the cuts to Social Security & Medicare that just might hurt some of your partisans but save the system & the country. You preach freedom, but are nearly uniform in your opposition to the defining civil rights issue of our time: gay marriage. I really would like to believe you, but I see nothing but inconsistency. But hey, the Radical Left is no better. I voted for Obama twice (the alternatives were abysmal) and I think he means well, but he increasingly appears to be just not up to the job of being President. Yet the MSDNC people still seem to regard him as a messiah. Sad & pathetic. Anyway time for the Tea party to gather around the tree & sing that old standard “I’m Dreaming of a White Country…”. (“That’s a joke, I said a joke, son” -Foghorn Leghorn) Merry Christmas!

  10. NFL properties, which licenses the sale of merchandise with team logs is non-profit. Money goes to the teams, which are taxed, and to charites.

  11. That is the singular most fuked up, jacked up, stupidest fuking idiot asinine bull$hit I have ever read….anywhere! I’m not sure I believe even WE do anything this blatantly stupid and short sighted. IF it is humanly possible, I would like just one respondent to defend this…but I won’t hold my breath.

      • GE paid no taxes, FACEBOOK paid no taxes, there are DOZENS more & THIS surprises you? WOW, I bet you know who Miley Cyrus is screwing though, right?

        • Nope, but you just revealed your ignorance regarding me, I am exactly 180 degrees the opposite of who you think I am. I know more about history and as much about politics as anyone in these forums. No one gets away tax free, there are too many caveats. But I’m willing to accept that as a people and being the dumbest collectively on the planet, that there may be a small chance there is something to this.

  12. I guess this shows the citizenry the value of sports over anything else. I especially take offense that they would allow the NFL to be tax exempt and cut the military retirement pensions. How much more have the military given to this country vs the NFL? Never has an NFL member died in the defense of their country.

  13. Sorry, but this is not “bread and circuses”, at least not the issue of the NFL’s tax exempt status. The league itself is a not-for-profit entity. Yes, the CEO brings in the big bucks, but so do CEO’s of most other non-profits, including most big charities. The individual teams are where the profits are. They are also the ones who benefit from the subsidies for new stadiums. I agree that government should NOT subsidize sports venues, but that has nothing to do with the league’s tax exempt status as a non-profit.

      • Actually, the highest paid charity CEOs get around $2Mil. But How exacly is that relevant anyway? The CEO is paying personal income tax on that salary.

        • You should not make exorbitant money on helping the poor. The Salvation Army has it right. They are paid the minimum gracious salary. Even the Catholic Church has gone to paying the maximum in order to ingratiate themselves with Democratic politicians by hiring their relatives. In Boston, this was mazimized in the archdiocese by bringing in a new education chief, Mary Grasso, from the Boston Public Schools with a salary of 350K plus the 50K pension she brought in from the public sector. She replaced two nuns who were making the minimum which in this case was nothing. That is why it is relevant. If your logic is followed, then they should be paid 4 million because they will then pay more income tax.

    • What you’re saying is that if I had enough money and knew the right people, I too could become a “not-for-profit entity” and pay no taxes. I think you are confusing “tax exempt” and “not for profit” with “ethical” and “equitable.” Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s morally right.

      • You don’t have to “know” anyone special. All you have to do is follow the IRS rules that pertain to not-for-profit entities, which includes not making a profit. The NFL itself does not make a profit, the 32 individual teams do. The league exists to promote and support professional Football. If you wanted to start a non-profit to support fly fishing, you could. You just have to make sure that all the money your company takes in gets paid back out so it doesn’t show a profit. Any salaries paid to any officers or employees are taxed at the individual level.

        There is nothing morally wrong with the NFL being a tax exempt non-profit. There is something morally wrong with taxpayer money funding sports stadiums. The two are not related.

  14. This is out and out outrageous garbage!! WE pay out countless billions of dollars for stadiums for these spoiled brats to play their crummy games in and we have to pay taxes they should be paying. This business of stadium building is really on a roll here in the Bay area with one well on the way for a billion or so and two more laying plans for a lousy game that causes many long lasting injuries and a whole lot of debt we cannot afford. Some of these people need to wake up and learn to spend money on worthwhile objectives!!!!

  15. Cities that host major league sports teams do it for the “prestige” it brings. It also draws fans from all over the home state and from the visiting teams’ states. If cities and states that host major league sports don’t get tax money from the leagues or team owners they certainly get it from the commerce that the teams generate. I, personally, don’t care for ball games now that I am old enough to be interested in other things. I don’t live in a “major league” city, anyway. I wonder how much federal and state income taxes the team owners, managers, and players pay. Probably a lot. If cities and states are not getting their money’s worth from the teams they should stop giving them tax breaks. I say, let the states and cities increase taxes for the teams and see how long the teams stick around.

  16. Yeah , those greedy bastards REALLY need the money , I will NEVER watch a professional sporting event again , NEVER .

  17. I’m finished with the NFL and will never watch another BS game they show or buy any product associated with these bums. They charge a fortune to get into these games and then stick their hands in our pockets the taxpayers to steel more from us, they can shove it where the sun doesn’t shine…..

  18. 47 whopping comments on a story that SHOULD be headline news. It is AMAZING how STUPID, UNEDUCATED, ILL INFORMED & LAZY Americans really are. I used to wonder how ANY populace could be so screwed up as to put a Hitler in power, now I know.

  19. Has anyone considered that these franchises may actually bring in revenue to the city that exceeds the subsidies provided? Also, these teams are a source of civic pride. Your argument has some merit, but not everything can be quantified by dollars & cents.

  20. This has been corporate law forever in this country. The NFL organized as a non profit 80 years ago. They can do that because they technically represent the TEAMS, the TEAMS are for profit, the NFL is not because it just “represents” the teams. The players union is ALSO a non profit, cool huh?

  21. One more time, it shows how “corrupt” politicians in Washington are…
    Bet you that there are “thousands” of free skyboxes available to those that Voted in favor of giving, all the MultiMillion NFL Teams, the ongoing Tax Brake…
    I am certain that Barack Obma did not include them in the famous 1% that have never paid their fair share of Taxes, did he?

  22. The post probable reason for a multi million dollar business to be tax exempt is it part of the liberals distraction arm. Keep the population distracted so they don’t notice their rights being stripped from them.

  23. Bread and circuses, definitely.

    However, I would call sports stadiums something even more ironically ancient: Taxpayer-funded temples.

    Personally, I think all football from NFL down to Pee Wee needs to take a season off, ostensibly for Sandusky penance, but so we can also have some time to look ourselves in the mirror and admit to all the evil we tolerate in the name of football that we otherwise wouldn’t.

    • “Personally, I think all football from NFL down to Pee Wee needs to take a season off, ostensibly for Sandusky penance”

      Then by that logic, I guess the Catholic church should take a few decades off.

  24. It is really shameful that the NFL who makes huge profits is exempt from paying taxes on this income and not only that, but they are able to threaten cities, counties and states into giving them even more in free money from the taxpayers! NFL Players are very much overpaid for essentially playing a game! This is shameful!

  25. Not for nothing, but all this fuss about the NFL being tax exempt is something I’d expect to hear from liberals. The argument against taxpayer funded stadiums on the other hand is certainly a conservative issue. Taking tax money to pay for a stadium from someone who doesn’t like football is no different than taking money from a devout Christian who doesn’t believe in contraception to pay for Sandra Fluke’s birth control or taking tax money from and atheist to pay for a nativity scene. All those things are morally wrong and should be fought at every opportunity.

  26. Where are the howling voices of the extreme radical fascist left on this issue? Is it not the extreme radical fascist left party death democrats who always say we should all pay our fair share, we should all have skin in the game, the rich need to pay more in taxes? If the NFL is not awash in treasure, then nobody in America is rich!

  27. Too many bros being overpaid by the greedy boss men; if the sheeple were smart, disciplined and had fortitude they would stop going to these freak shows but they don’t want to make a sacrifice to stop this utter criminal endeavor. I stopped watching the NFL and ESPN because they have become propagandists for the new Hitler! It kills me, all these rabid sports fans would do better to take up a sport themselves to get exercise rather than pay outlandish prices to sit on their asses and root, root, root for the home team. Baa, baa, baa, we want to be sheared!

  28. does that mean that buying something from the nfl, being tickets, paraphernalia, etc. can be then tax-exempted come irs filing time?

  29. In my opinion, the article’s analysis of government motivation (to distract us) is flawed. The congress critters who write the tax code are in the pockets of millionaires like the people who own NFL teams, and they merely accommodate them. Do you think our representatives really care if we are distracted by football or not? They really do care about contributions, however.

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