NFL gamers have protested the nationwide anthem for a bit of over a yr now.
First, they kneeled for Black Lives Matter, then in opposition to “police brutality.” Now, they’re kneeling to protest racial injustice.
But has kneeling helped them increase consciousness? Has their weekly spectacle modified any insurance policies or legal guidelines? No. If something, their protest has backfired spectacularly—it’s merely made loads of Americans cease watching soccer.
No one must be stunned—kneeling throughout the nationwide anthem isn’t a great way to focus consideration on a subject. The gesture is a broad, overgeneralized indictment of America. It shouldn’t be a critique of injustice, nor does it pave the best way for significant reform.
There are higher methods to protest, and higher venues for protest than soccer video games.
It’s simple to have sturdy, visceral emotions about disrespecting America. It’s tougher to get keen about tax regulation. But if there was ever a time to really feel outraged over the tax code (aside from Tax Day), that point is now.
Section 501 (c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code gives an inventory of tax-exempt commerce organizations: enterprise leagues, chambers of commerce, actual property boards, boards of commerce, soccer leagues. Which certainly one of this stuff shouldn’t be just like the others?
I name a quick timeout for a historical past lesson.
The NFL was first granted tax-exempt standing in 1942. When the NFL and AFL merged in 1966, Commissioner Pete Rozelle wished the NFL’s tax exemption made everlasting. Meanwhile, two Louisiana Democrats wished a soccer group, and an only-in-Washington alternative introduced itself.
In a swampy tit-for-tat, House Majority Whip Hale Boggs, D-La., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Russell Long, D-La., completely codified the NFL’s tax exemption.
According to Michael MacCambridge, writer of “America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation,” Rozelle was so delighted to listen to the tax information that he stated, “Congressman Boggs, I don’t know the way I can ever thanks sufficient for this.”
Boggs instantly countered with, “What do you imply you don’t know the right way to thank me? New Orleans will get a right away franchise within the NFL.”
Sure sufficient, one yr later, the Saints got here marching in.
To be clear, the tax exemption doesn’t apply to groups. Teams and gamers each pay taxes. The standing applies solely to the NFL League Office.
This particular deal with can be a bit of extra palatable—although nonetheless unfair—if the League Office merely dealt with paperwork and pensions. Unfortunately, the NFL League Office’s primary obligation is negotiating stadium offers.
Stadiums are funded primarily by taxpayer dollars, introduced in by means of elevated taxes and municipal bond financing schemes. Over the previous decade, $7 billion in taxpayer dollars had been spent on stadiums. In some egregious instances, cities constructed new stadiums even whereas their residents had been nonetheless paying off previous stadiums that had since closed.
This is company welfare run amok, and a gross misuse of American residents’ tax cash—one thing the federal government should deal with with respect.
As many pundits have famous, the NFL League Office voluntarily gave up its tax-exempt standing in 2015. Until the tax code modifications, nevertheless, it might probably revert to being tax-exempt at any time when it chooses.
Equally importantly, the NHL, PGA Tour, and LPGA are additionally at the moment tax-exempt, regardless of incomes over $2 billion per yr in gross income.
These are really “tax breaks for billionaires,” to cite Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the textbook definition of a special-interest loophole. It’s time to revoke this pointless, undeserved tax break. Why ought to “massive sports activities” get tax breaks that companies and households throughout America don’t get?
That’s why I’ve determined to be the lead sponsor of H.R. 296, the PRO Sports Act, a invoice that will finish the tax-exempt standing for sports activities leagues making over $10 million yearly.
I’ve despatched a letter to Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, asking for this to be included within the tax overhaul.
With tax reform at the moment one of many highest priorities of Congress, it’s time to finish this unjustified, unjustifiable provision.
In 2016, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the PRO Sports Act would herald over $150 million in new income. With America $20 trillion in debt, each greenback helps—and, extra importantly, it restores some equity to the tax code.
If gamers select to protest, then I can select to not watch. It’s as simple as turning off the tv. But the tax code signifies that all taxpaying Americans are financially supporting professional sports activities, whether or not they need to or not.
Ending this tax break would change issues. If gamers need to protest, allow them to do it on their very own time, and on their very own dime. The American individuals shouldn’t must pay for it.
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