You may not know it, but the National Football League is a nonprofit organization. It may seem absurd that a collection of teams that generated at least $9 billion in revenue last season would be given tax-exempt status, but the NFL is technically classified as a 501(c)6 organization. It’s obviously notable that only professional football leagues are included here, as opposed to all sporting leagues. The exemption for football stems from lobbying efforts by Pete Rozelle in the 1960s to earn an antitrust exemption for the merger of the NFL and AFL. The antitrust and tax exemptions were cleverly attached to an uncontroversial 1966 bill to “suspend the investment credit and the allowance of accelerated depreciation in the case of certain real property.” The NFL-AFL merger language was included at the end of the bill that had nothing else to do with football.
It seems inconceivable that the NFL is not “engag[ing] in a regular business of a kind ordinarily carried on for profit.” How are their efforts to maximize profits any different than those of Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association or the National Hockey League? As far as the NFL’s “net earnings,” the nonprofit was actually in the red in 2009, according to its latest available return. Virtually all of the leagues $192.3 million in revenue in 2009 came from “membership dues & assessment.” While the NFL doesn’t explain how much each clubs pays in dues, it averages to about $6 million per team. NFL owners don’t have to pay taxes on those dues, as they are considered donations to a nonprofit.
At least make them build their own stadiums, not the taxpayer. Of course this is never going to happen, but I can still bitch about it.