WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- President Donald Trump started a series of Twitter posts blasting NFL players who take a knee instead of standing up during the national anthem.
- The president’s word war with the football league is still on, targeting the league’s ‘tax break’.
- Trump, however, was misinformed as the league no longer has tax exemption since 2015.
President Trump continued to attack the NFL by repeatedly tweeting his thoughts about the league.
This time, Trump turns his attention to NFL’s tax status. On Oct. 10, the president posted this, “Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!”
His grumble, however, is incorrect. The NFL already has no tax exemption for two years.
Since 1942, the NFL was a tax-exempt trade organization. In 2015, the league voluntarily gave up that classification.
The public, including Trump, misunderstood its tax exemption status for a long time. For everybody’s information, only the league office was tax-exempt. The 32 teams, players, team owners, managers and coaches were not.
NFL’s earnings from ticket sales, broadcast deals and sponsorships were not spared from taxes. The only revenue untaxed was the NFL office’s income, if the office made a profit. The league’s office did not make profits until 2012. It is separate from the teams’ management and office.
The Citizens for Tax Justice reported in 2015 that the NFL office has an annual $10 million savings due to the tax breaks.
On April 28, 2015, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote a letter to the NFL team owners saying that the NFL’s tax exemption had been “mischaracterized repeatedly.”
“A change in the tax status will not alter the function or operation of the league office or Management Council in any way,” Goodell wrote. “The fact is that the business of the NFL has never been tax exempt. Every dollar of income generated through television rights fees, licensing agreements, sponsorships, ticket sales, and other means is earned by the 32 clubs and is taxable there. This will remain the case even when the league office and Management Council file returns as taxable entities, and the change in filing status will make no material difference to our business. As a result, the committees decided to eliminate this distraction.”
Twitter users supported Trump’s inaccurate tweet by reminding Americans that the public finance new stadiums.
It’s true that more than half of the NFL stadiums built since 1997 got some help from public financing through local municipalities, believing that having an NFL stadium will promote their economy.
This financial aid though was given to the franchises that build and own these stadiums. Trump’s accusation that the NFL gets massive tax breaks is false.
White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders averted America’s attention to stadium financing saying: “Billions of taxpayer dollars continue to subsidize the construction and renovation of professional sports stadiums.”
Since the protest issue, NFL has started losing sponsorship and dropping TV ratings.