Gaetz Wants End To Sports League Tax Exemptions

September 27, 2017

Update: In a Monday press release, Congressman Matt Gaetz stated that the NFL League Office is tax exempt. While still eligible to be tax exempt, they voluntarily relinquished that status in 2015. When questioned by Wednesday morning, a spokesperson for Gaetz made that clarification and issued an updated statement that is below..

Tuesday, Congressman Matt Gaetz became the lead sponsor of a bill that ends the tax-exempt status of professional sports leagues.

The NFL League Office received a special tax carveout from 1966 until it was voluntarily relinquished in 2015.  Though individual teams were not tax-exempt, the NFL League Office was. They are responsible for the construction and development of new stadiums, paid for with over 6.5 billion taxpayer dollars. Tax-exempt revenues for professional sports leagues are higher than $2 billion. According to the Internal Revenue Service, businesses that conduct operations for profit on a “cooperative basis” should not qualify for tax-exempt treatment, yet a special exemption is made for professional sports leagues.

“Though the NFL voluntarily relinquished their tax exempt status in 2015, the NHL, PGA, and LPGA remain tax exempt. There is nothing that prevents the NFL from reclaiming its status. My legislation would end this loophole and generate over $150 million in new revenue over 10 years, according to 2016 estimates,” Gaetz said in a clarified statement Wednesday morning.

“Like many Americans, I was dismayed and disgusted to see multimillionaire athletes sitting or kneeling during the national anthem. Standing for the national anthem shows respect for our nation, and for the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms,” Rep. Gaetz said. “Those hard-fought freedoms include freedom of speech, and free speech does include protest. But nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Americans are required to subsidize disrespect for America, or to have their tax dollars wasted on corporate welfare to sports teams. Tax reform is currently the top priority of Congress. We must close this loophole in the tax code, and end taxpayer subsidies for professional athletics. If players want to protest, they have that right — but they should do it on their own time, and on their own dime.”

In 2016, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that this bill would bring in approximately 150 million dollars in new revenue over ten years.


44 Responses to “Gaetz Wants End To Sports League Tax Exemptions”

  1. Raul Pupo on October 9th, 2017 9:26 am

    The disrespect shown our flag, our anthem, and our troops by those who would rather grandstand their grievances in public rather than play football calls for a response on the part of the Congress, corporate sponsors, and fans who, in the end, pay all the bills. For one, Congress needs to revoke the NFL’s antitrust exemption. Billionaire team owners must learn to operate, as most businesses do, in a truly free market environment for the benefit of their customer base if not their bank accounts. Congress also needs to step in and disallow the use of tax-exempt municipal bonds to finance any private use stadiums or facilities. Third, corporate sponsors who are conflicted about whether market share or respect for the flag carries the day need to be met by a heady response on the part of consumers. Let’s face it, the market is chock-a-block with candy bar and insurance suppliers. Finally, until such time as the flag, the anthem, and our troops get the respect they deserve we are probably better off reading a good book on game day.


  2. David Huie Green on October 1st, 2017 10:45 pm

    “First, these players are working for privately owned organizations. While “on the clock”, they have no 1st Amendment right to protest anything unless they have the expressed permission of their employer.”

    This is true. The First Amendment right to say things Congress does not like has nothing to do with private organizations.

    On the other hand….Use of the power of government to punish those organizations for allowing their employees to say things the government does not like being said, IS a violation of the First Amendment.
    Government forcing folks to silence other folks or pay higher taxes is clearly intended to be a restriction on free speech.

    Therefore, while what Congressman Matt Gaetz has proposed is unConstitutional, Congress has not violated the Constitution until and unless they pass his bill.

    David for faithful public servants

  3. Bob's Brother on September 28th, 2017 9:12 pm

    I’m LOL at all of the ignorance in this comment section. First, these players are working for privately owned organizations. While “on the clock”, they have no 1st Amendment right to protest anything unless they have the expressed permission of their employer. Would Domino’s pizza let me wear an “I hate pizza” shirt while delivering pizza?
    Second… if you are earning U.S. Dollars on a field of play while protesting the U.S. and it’s laws and policies, make your protest real and refuse those evil $$.
    Third… If the police, and the laws of this nation irk you so much, why bother? There are plenty of nations who will be happy to tax your earnings and not bother to value your opinion.

  4. David Huie Green on September 28th, 2017 7:33 pm

    “There should be an age restriction and IQ restriction to serve in public office. The age restriction would stop people fighting dementia from serving, and the IQ test would stop people from introducing self serving stupid bills.”


    Dementia can happen at any age or never. Those without it should not be penalized for those who with it.

    There is nothing about being smart or stupid which would stop people from introducing self serving stupid bills.

    The main problem with an IQ test to determine who could serve, is that those in power are likely to force the creation which will guarantee only their group passes in the future. The government should not be in charge of deciding who can be the government.

    David AGAINST snakes swallowing their own tails

  5. David Huie Green on September 28th, 2017 7:26 pm

    ‘There is something I do not understand: Donald Trump, whose ignorance has no bottom,”

    Come now. You can’t get below zero. Even at that, he is certainly above zero.

    Regarding the other part, I was with you. I don’t watch football since it is destroying the bodies and minds of the players and watchers, but I also thought they were showing extreme respect by kneeling like someone before the king. (I was wrong, but that is what I thought.)

    David for knighting them

  6. Alabamian on September 28th, 2017 8:01 am

    @Ponderosa Hill I don’t really get the point you’re trying to make with your question. You brought up a world war against foreign aggressors (and both fronts of it), which is slightly different than a peaceful protest by American citizens, in America. In fact, it doesn’t even remotely apply to what I was talking about. But maybe you’re bringing up that fight, because it was among many other things, a fight to preserve our Constitution and subsequently our right to free speech? Which is what is being exercised in this whole fiasco. So yeah, uhh, what were you trying to say with that?

    If your idea of solving issues you find disagreeable is sending those with opposing views to another country, then in reality, YOU are the ones who belong and would fit in places like North Korea.

  7. Donn S. Miller on September 27th, 2017 7:20 pm

    There is something I do not understand: Donald Trump, whose ignorance has no bottom, characterized the act of kneeling (rather than standing) during the kowtow to the flag as an exhibition of disrespect. If that is what kneeling signifies, then why is kneeling in church — e.g., before an altar or other such venerated object — a common observance?

  8. Grand Locust on September 27th, 2017 6:30 pm

    There should be an age restriction and IQ restriction to serve in public office. The age restriction would stop people fighting dementia from serving, and the IQ test would stop people from introducing self serving stupid bills. Of course we would have to make certain that the IQ tests were confidential and and anonymous. I would feel better about this bill if the sponsor had passed that IQ test, now I am stuck not knowing if he is a dotard or actually somebody with a good idea…….I suspect this was introduced simply for pandering to voters, but if he had that IQ certification, I certainly would be wrong.

  9. BT on September 27th, 2017 6:06 pm

    I think the patriotic thing would be to support peaceful protest. Gaetz isn’t even smart enough to disguise his intentions – that he is doing this to suppress protest.

    Shouldn’t the brave men and women who vowed to defend the constitution be proud that people are exercising their constitutional rights? Or is the flag more important than the constitution?

    You can debate whether the protests are effective or justified, but how can you be an American and suggest these people be punished, arrested, or sent to North Korea?

  10. Ponderosa hill on September 27th, 2017 5:07 pm

    To Alabamian: I guess you’re suggesting another national conversation?
    Seems some among us just need to talk about things !
    Think conversations would have changed things @
    Pearl Harbor, Normandy, Hiroshima etc ?
    To Tom: Canada is a fine Country andseems very respectful of their
    Laws. I’ve driven a good bit up there and they far surpass
    Us in cordiality etc. speed limits are much lower and it’s all
    better. Sq mileage we’re about even with them but their
    Population is 1/10 of ours. They’ve got plenty of room
    For more people and might welcome 1000 or so multi-
    millionaires. They’ve a fine National Anthem and may or
    may not mind if one disrespects fellow Canadians.

  11. Jeb on September 27th, 2017 4:46 pm

    Worried Resident Im with you if you don’t like it don’t watch! And I’m not watching.

  12. Marcus Green on September 27th, 2017 4:45 pm

    This bill won’t do anything to the NFL, since it has already abandoned its tax exempt status, but set that aside. The United States Congress is proposing a targeted tax increase as a means to punish political dissent. This is a profound assault on the 1st Amendment. If that doesn’t bother you, it should bother you that it doesn’t.

  13. Jayson on September 27th, 2017 3:55 pm

    Regardless of your views on this matter the FACT is this is a First Amendment issue. Period. These players have EVERY right to stand OR kneel for what they believe in..that is just the way it is — it is the foundation of our nation… Civil liberties and freedoms DO include protests of the things that we hold dear as a nation, if those that oppose in protest feel betrayed by the system for which it supports. The NFL will NEVER go away. It will NEVER go broke. There is NOTHING that will be done to make it happen. If you don’t like professional sports, or if you are offended — well, don’t watch… And for all of you who have not done the research, the NFL gave up its tax exempt status in 2015. I am sick and tired of hearing people whine because others do not conform to their beliefs.. This is a FREE country the last time I checked. Worse things in the name of far better pursuits have happened in the shadow of the First Amendment, and things worked out just fine. If you want to spend your Sunday’s hating – I suggest you find a hobby of some sort and quit crying. I think it is absolutely hilarious that the UNITY of NFL players, coaches and owners against being called out by the President is really a concern for Congress. Maybe we should work on more important issues like health care?? Seems like smart government to me – but hey, what do I know — I like watching puppets dance.

  14. Marvin Lima on September 27th, 2017 3:21 pm

    I 1000% agree and if you need support please let me know as one first generation American Patriot
    Lack of accountability and respect for the nation that gave them all these opportunities should have consequences as each american faces each day when the go to work and try to make a living.

  15. aam on September 27th, 2017 3:08 pm

    Get off your knee and go find a place better than where you are at. The diatribe is surely a way to say poor pitiful me.

  16. LarryB on September 27th, 2017 1:22 pm

    I have never thought that government should be involved in funding
    professional sports teams. I am still unhappy about George W Bush using
    his political power of eminent domain to seize land for the
    original Ranger stadium, and condemn his use of tax free municipal bonds
    to finance it. That was crooked politics as bad as anything the Clintons

    Now we have these teams that have gotten rich using municipal stadiums at
    low or no cost disrespecting the people of the United States and their
    flag. I don’t care what they do with their money. When they use part of
    sales tax revenue, or get a tax break for doing so, I get very angry.

    Oklahoma US Rep. Steve Russell introduced a bill to eliminate tax
    exemption for municipal bonds used to build professional sports stadiums.
    NJ Sen. Cory Booker and OK Sen James Langford have introduce similar
    bills. As part of the Tax reform legislature being considered in the
    House and Senate I want to see elimination of tax exemption for any
    stadium or arena used for professional sports.

    Those professional teams are mega-businesses. They can afford to pay taxes.

    If they used publicly owned facilities they should treat the use of them
    as income, unless they pay the municpality a rent that is in line with the
    real cost.

    Cities have been literally bankrupting themselves to build professional
    sports arenas. This had to stop. Examples are: Joe Lewis Hockey arena,
    Detroit. Rose Gardens Portland OR. Prescott Valley event Center AZ, Etc.
    Google bankruptcy and arena and you will find a bigger list.

    To ad insult to injury, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Goat Ropers joined to
    NFL in insulting the people who gave them a free venue.

    It has got to end. The tax reform effort is a good place to put an end to
    professional sports abuse of the taxpayers.

    This is an issue that leads my list of what I want my representatives and
    senators to do for me.

  17. Alabamian on September 27th, 2017 1:16 pm

    I have no doubt that the people offended by this are the same ones that say “everyone gets offended too easily these days!” I also wonder how many of you get off the couch and stand for the national anthem at home when you’re eating chips and pounding Bud Lights watching college football.
    This is a peaceful protest. After Ferguson and Baltimore everyone asked “why can’t they be peaceful?” Clearly a large number of people have something to say.
    So here’s a novel idea: listen to them and start a dialogue! I know most rural southerners are terrified to go beyond their county line and of anything that’s outside the realm of their homogenous, vacuum-sealed way of life, but instead of just bashing ideas you don’t agree with, why not talk about it?

  18. Tom on September 27th, 2017 1:04 pm

    Ponderosa, Regarding Canada .At this point I suspect us Americans could learn a thing or too from those “Canadians”. They are after all as close an ally as we will ever have and making fun of them is counter productive. (If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.)

    – John Adams

  19. Ponderosa hill on September 27th, 2017 12:22 pm

    Doesn’t Canada play Pro Football ? Might be a good place for
    the NFL to dig roots. All those millionaires would help Canada’s
    economy…..there’s free national healthcare and seems a pretty liberal
    Country . See Ya !

  20. Valiant Thor on September 27th, 2017 12:22 pm

    And for those telling anyone who disagrees to leave or go to North Korea:

    This type of protest is not allowed by the regime in North Korea. They kowtow to a crybaby manchild Kim Jong Un that takes revenge on anyone that doesn’t go his way.

    Sound familiar?

  21. Valiant Thor on September 27th, 2017 12:13 pm

    In no way is this protest about patriotism. It is about protesting an administration that fosters bias against anyone that doesn’t think the way they do, an administration that calls kneeling protesters “sons of bitches” and Nazi marchers “very fine people”, an administration that encourages police officers to rough up citizens.

    Patriotism is supporting constitutional rights for ALL Americans, not just the ones you agree with.

    We took a knee against England in the Revolution, we took one during the Civil Rights movement, and we’ll take one now, please and thank you.

  22. ? on September 27th, 2017 12:03 pm

    The First Amendment guarantees freedoms concerning religion, expression, assembly, and the right to petition. What don’t you people understand this is not slavery days anymore. I respect the flag 100 percent but there more important things going on in this world.

  23. Tom on September 27th, 2017 12:00 pm

    This country sure is looking pretty divided this last decade. We were never this inward and oblivious in centuries past, I guess good things can come from idealizing the flag and nationalism right? citation:see WW2

  24. Constituent on September 27th, 2017 11:28 am

    So, how’s that Bill he introduced to abolish the EPA working out for him?
    What about the Bill he co-sponsored to abolish the Department of Education. Is that still a thing?

  25. BNico on September 27th, 2017 11:28 am

    This is why I watch Nascar

  26. FaithinUS on September 27th, 2017 11:24 am

    Thank You, Mr. Gaetz for taking a common-sense tax reform effort (that should’ve been codified before now) and turning it into a REVENGE thing against colored people. Typical Republican, just gotta sully it by ‘Othering’ American citizens that you disagree with. smh.

  27. EMD on September 27th, 2017 10:56 am

    WHY are they tax-exempt in the first place? I didn’t know that. I find it very disgusting and just plain WRONG ! ! !

  28. Gracie on September 27th, 2017 9:42 am

    This is NOT about race….that is STUPIDITY. This is all about RESPECT for our country and what it ‘STANDS” for. YOU don’t like, go live with Kim Jong-Un. He needs some desperate help with the missile throwing. Maybe the football players can help him out, then as he does his own people, he will shoot them or worse.
    If you don’t love this country, GET OUT! We do not want or need you….
    Any of you!

  29. Sage2 on September 27th, 2017 9:41 am

    On the home front, do our part to remind the NFL and its prima donna idiot of the concern we hold for their actions. Just don’t watch ANY NFL games period! Watch the weather channel or cartoon channel…all ’bout the same!

  30. FL resident on September 27th, 2017 9:13 am

    I totally agree with Mr. Gaetz. If you don’t want to respect the flag, take the next plane out of this country. God Bless our Military and Police Officers and our President for giving people like me a voice once again.

  31. Nanna on September 27th, 2017 7:57 am

    Support this bill MAKE AMERICA GREAT!again. The president has the right to appoint any executive order he wants so if he wants to he can ban sports then they will all be at the unemployment line on our tax dollars. Sports is solely entertainment anyway

  32. retired on September 27th, 2017 7:50 am

    I am for their right to protest BUT TO DISRECPECT OUR FLAG OR NATION.
    I FOR ONE WILL STOP WATCHING THEIR GAMES AND BUYING ANYTHING THEY SPONSOR. While they show disresprect for this great country

  33. Thank you Gatez on September 27th, 2017 7:45 am

    Thank you Mr. Gatez! I had no Idea the privileged players and their owners had this benefit. The NFL is dead on arrival at this point and it may not be salvageable even if they force players to stand. About time we have politicians that stand with the average Joe instead of the privileged establishment!

  34. aam on September 27th, 2017 7:38 am

    Valiant Thor: Even though you want to make this about race it is about patriotism. If you don’t want to stand for the Flag then sit on the plane that takes you to another country. I for one will not be watching NFL or buying anything NFL. Also go Gaetz, stop our money from supporting the ungrateful millionaires.

  35. Sedition on September 27th, 2017 7:17 am

    Worried Resident,
    Please define “equality for all”. Name a right that I have as a non-black citizen that they themselves do not have. Please tell me how “equality for all” fits in with “affirmative action” when it gives preferred status to certain skin colors and sexes and not all. Please tell me how “equality for all” fits in having lower acceptable college entrance scores for certain skin colors that are not white. Where does “equality for all” fit in when blacks demand their own “safe spaces”, dorms, break areas and eating areas? Or when blacks demand white students and faculty not show up on campus for a day to have a “white-free day”?
    Equality for all happens when equal opportunity and equal effort is taken advantage of. Espousing the thug lifestyle isn’t very conducive to employment. Disciplinary actions and low/no grades aren’t conducive to employment. Criminal behavior can and does get you shot on occasion…just ask the greater number of whites shot per year by cops than blacks shot by cops. And yes…there ARE bad cop shootings ON BOTH SIDES of the race rainbow.
    There are way too many successful blacks out there (that aren’t athletes, rap artists, or drug dealers) for this kind of excuse making to continue. Only an idiot business owner would pass up a highly qualified black candidate because of his skin color unless that candidate displays attitudes of pulling out that dog-eared race card every time things don’t go his way.
    Equal opportunity is offered…equal results are not guaranteed and are dependent upon the effort put forth.

  36. area resident on September 27th, 2017 6:21 am

    Congressman Gaetz has our support on this matter. We are assuming others, like ourselves, were not aware of this exemption. No wonder the rich get richer.

  37. Valiant Thor on September 27th, 2017 6:17 am

    Matt Gaetz taking a knee to kiss the kings of Supreme Leader Drumpf.

    Florida congressman who introduces a new bill to undermine african-americans using their First Amendment rights instead of introducing new legislation to provide more aid to hurricane affected US citizens in Puerto Rico.

  38. Jimmy Jet on September 27th, 2017 6:00 am

    The NFL gave up its tax exempt status in 2015.

  39. Wilykyote on September 27th, 2017 5:45 am

    Life as we used to know it has sure changed in the last 50 years… this case the NFL has gone from paying a QB $400,000 ( Joe Willy Namath ) to nowadays where
    some are getting $20 million for throwing a football on a LOSING team. Now the
    NFL is insisting they will stick a finger in the eye of WE THE PEOPLE . I’ll stick to
    College Football and Women’s College Softball.

  40. Worried Resident on September 27th, 2017 5:32 am

    It’s a shame, that these people are being persecuted because of the desire for equality for all. It is perfectly legal to calmly protest. If you disagree, don’t watch.

  41. Shake your foundations on September 27th, 2017 5:22 am

    Let’s take a knee to their tax exempt status and do away with it.
    They owe everything to this country.

  42. Willis on September 27th, 2017 5:05 am

    Good !!!!

  43. Done with the NFL on September 27th, 2017 3:45 am

    Don’t much like Gaetz but this actually sounds like a good bill.. These players make their living off the American people. If you can’t respect our flag no freebies and I’m a perfect world theyd be in the unemployment line.

  44. Chris on September 27th, 2017 3:24 am

    How are the poor millionaires going to afford all those mistresses?

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