To: US Congress

End the NFL's "charity" tax break

End the NFL's "charity" tax break

There's no reason sports fans or any other Americans should pay the National Football League's taxes. Professional sports leagues with billions in annual revenues don't need tax exemptions -- revoke the NFL's "nonprofit" status and demand the league pay its fair share.

Why is this important?

Did you know that the National Football League is a nonprofit, and hasn't paid a dime in taxes since 1966? As a lifelong football fan, I was shocked to discover that I haven't just paid to watch games and bought NFL merchandise since I was 6 years old -- I've been paying higher taxes as an adult to make-up for the NFL's share.

Some of my best memories are football related. I remember standing in line in 1987 to get John Elway's autograph, and the famous playoff drive. I love the parity of the NFL, and I believe the league provides an important service by ensuring that the league remains strong and that competitive games are well-organized. But that service doesn't justify the NFL being granted nonprofit status -- like soup kitchens and charities have -- that allows it to avoid paying taxes, especially as top executives are paid up to $29 million per year.

I was shocked to learn that the last time the NFL paid taxes was 1966, when lobbyists convinced Congress to pass an obscure provision that expanded the definition of 501(c)6 not-for-profit organizations in the Internal Revenue Code to include "professional football leagues." The 1966 law gave the NFL a way to skirt taxes, while also granting it an uncommon antitrust exemption allowing it to create a monopoly to negotiate TV rights at the same time!

Since then, the NFL has shelled out big money to keep its sweetheart deal. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NFL has spent $2 million in campaign contributions since 1992 and spent $12.7 million on lobbying efforts since 1998, knowing that its fair share of taxes would be many millions more.

As Republicans in Congress vote to cut food stamps and obstruct the extension of unemployment benefits, it's time to highlight the hypocrisy of letting a multi-billion operation like the NFL get away with paying no taxes while they stick us with the bill. Though the NFL has successfully held back efforts to make it pay its fair share for nearly 50 years, Congress has the opportunity to change that by updating the Internal Revenue Code. Legislation to do just that was introduced last fall, but we need Congress to get behind it.

With 111.5 million viewers, Sunday's Super Bowl was the most watched television event in U.S. history. Now is the perfect time to put pressure on Congress to revoke the NFL's nonprofit status.


Mark Runyon | Pro Football Schedules (

United States

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2014-02-02 10:53:24 -0800

200,000 signatures reached

2014-01-30 06:57:01 -0800

150,000 signatures reached

2014-01-27 05:19:24 -0800

100,000 signatures reached

2014-01-26 09:49:37 -0800

50,000 signatures reached

2014-01-26 07:22:31 -0800

20,000 signatures reached

2014-01-26 06:46:01 -0800

10,000 signatures reached

2014-01-26 06:29:33 -0800

5,000 signatures reached

2014-01-17 15:22:59 -0800

1,000 signatures reached

2014-01-17 08:05:12 -0800

500 signatures reached

2014-01-17 06:15:12 -0800

100 signatures reached

2014-01-17 06:09:16 -0800

50 signatures reached

2014-01-17 06:07:03 -0800

25 signatures reached

2014-01-17 06:04:29 -0800

10 signatures reached