Now I know I'm must be wrong -- I'm agreeing with Senator Tom Coburn (R - Oklahoma) on an issue. While I lay down, take a Xanax and wait patiently for the Super Bowl to start, here's what's bothering me. How can I agree with the Oklahoma Republican Senator on anything? He's an insane madman who hasn't had a nodding acquaintance with reality in twenty years. So is my current state of anxiety just a result of the blind squirrel finally finding a nut?
POLICYMIC reports this:
On Sunday, February 2, [today] over 80,000 people will gather in the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium and over 100 million people will gather around their televisions at home in order to watch the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos face off in Super Bowl XLVIII, the biggest annual charity event in the United States.
How, you might ask, can a $70 million event — one that entices advertisers to drop $4 million for a 30 second spot — be a charity event? Why, because the National Football League, an organization that pulls in millions in annual revenue, is a tax-exempt nonprofit.
Well shut my mouth. The NFL is a nonprofit?
That’s right: tax-exempt. That halftime show featuring Bruno Mars? That Times Square toboggan, and the swooping skycams, and the emergency snow clearing? Your billions of lost tax dollars at work.
Who do we have to blame for this? The IRS? Darrell Issa, if you're listening, this is the real IRS scandal.
You may be wondering how and when did this happen?
Well, the year was 1966, 46 years after the NFL was founded. That’s when, after some clever lobbying in Congress, language specifically designating professional football as qualifying for tax exempt status was sneaked into a wholly unrelated bill and passed through both houses of Congress. Now this status change wasn't for all professional sports, for instance baseball, basketball weren't beneficiaries. Just the NFL.
That brings us to today. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is currently attempting to revoke the NFL’s status. He's questioning (and so should we all) the football league's designation as a tax exempt entity. Major League Baseball and The National Basketball Association are not tax exempt. So what's the story here, fellas?
As a 501(c)6, (the tax code designation for organizations like the Chamber of Commerce), the NFL isn't supposed to engage in business “ordinarily carried on for profit.” Apparently, licensing high priced team logo'd apparel, granting broadcast rights, charging for admission and running an entire television network with advertising don’t count as profitable endeavors. If that's the case, maybe the problems lie in the salary they're paying their commissioner, Roger Goodell -- nearly $30 million a year.
Just for some sense of compensation for other non-profit organizations, places like the Red Cross, colleges, hospitals, museums, even the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
...nonprofit executive compensation, the median salary for executive directors at charitable organizations was a mere $126,000 in 2011.
Does that sound right, or even fair, to you? Not to me.
Well, my Xanax is kicking in right about now and I'm chilling. But I think it's about time we consider a change to the tax laws. This may not go very far as an organization the size of the NFL, with the deepest pockets imaginable, will fight this tooth and nail. But maybe Senator Coburn's swan song, (he's retiring soon) will be he was the man who brought the NFL back down to the level playing field. I sure hope so. Now it's on to the Super Bowl and hopefully a good game.