Why Congress will never take back the NFL’s tax break

The occasions range from the anger of then-Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in 2007 over a blackout of a New England Patriots game to resentment about the name of the Washington, D.C., football team to concern about concussions to anger over what Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.) and Maine’s independent Sen. Angus King called “tax earmarks.”

“For every dollar that goes out in a case like this, that’s a dollar my constituents have to pay in income taxes,” King said. “When I talk to people about the NFL being a nonprofit tax-exempt organization, they’re just astounded.” A tax reform package sponsored by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan is sitting in committee now. See Section 5301, “Repeal of tax-exempt status for professional sports leagues.”

Now, in the wake of the domestic abuse controversies in the NFL, the rumbling has started anew. Congress must now investigate the league’s handling of the domestic abuse charges, Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California said in a press release, as well as its “tolerance of performance enhancing drugs, the impact of traumatic brain injury on players later in life, and the tax-exempt status the NFL enjoys thanks to a loophole Congress created in the ’60s.”