Tax Reform: Republicans Suggest Cutting Off NFL’s Tax Breaks In Wake Of Player Protests

It looks like Congress is taking steps to end some of the special tax breaks and subsidies for major sports leagues in its tax reform package.

This football season it would seem it’s President Trump versus the National Football League – and in the latest move, the president warned that he might go after the league’s tax breaks.

“Why is the NFL getting massive tax breaks while at the same time disrespecting our Anthem, Flag and Country? Change tax law!” Trump tweeted on Tuesday.

Some Republican lawmakers in red states and Congress are talking about a costly penalty for the wave of civil rights protests by NFL players — slashing tax breaks for sports franchises that once enjoyed bipartisan support.

“In America, if you want to play sports you’re free to do so. If you want to protest, you’re free to do so,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R), a freshman from Florida’s Panhandle, in a floor speech Tuesday morning. “But you should do so on your own time and on your own dime.”

While churches, charities and other nonprofit organizations are usually exempt from certain taxes, the NFL central office is not. It was exempt until 2015, when it voluntarily changed its status.At the federal level, the NFL’s tax breaks had been controversial for years, cited as a shining example of government waste. In 2015, the league voluntarily gave up tax-exempt status, blaming bad PR and hoping to end a “distraction.”

But the tax exemption could be restored if the NFL asked for it, and it’s just one of many ways that NFL owners have benefited from taxpayers. The Oakland Raiders’ upcoming move to Las Vegas was made possible by a $750 million tax on Clark County residents.

Sports stadiums could no longer take advantage of tax breaks created to help states and cities borrow under the tax proposal released Thursday by congressional Republicans.

Lawmakers of both parties have long sought to limit the use of municipal bonds to benefit sports teams. A 2016 report by the Brookings Institution found the federal government has lost about $3.2 billion in federal tax dollars on construction or renovation of professional sports stadiums since 2000, including a $431 million subsidy for Yankee stadium.

According to a summary obtained by news organizations, the long-awaited tax plan would:

Limit the widely used deduction for mortgage interest for newly purchased homes at up to $500,000, a sharp reduction from the current $1m cap.
Limit the deductibility of local property taxes to $10,000.
Eliminate the deduction for state income taxes.
Nearly double the standard deduction used by most Americans to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for families.
Slash the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%.
Repeal the inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates.

Increase the child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600, though the $4,050 per child exemption would be repealed.

Shrink the number of tax brackets from seven to four, with respective tax rates of 12%, 25%, 35% and 39.6%.
Preserve a popular retirement account for middle-class Americans by leaving intact existing rules on 401(k) retirement accounts and the ability of Americans to contribute up to $18,000 into the accounts tax-free.