WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although the National Football League no longer claims tax exemptions, one United States Congressman has drafted a bill to prohibit sports associations from being able to classify as nonprofit organizations.
In response to protests by a number of players on NFL teams, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fort Walton Beach) recently sent a letter to the Ways and Means committee at the House of Representatives to consider including his H.R. 296, "Pro Sports Act," a bill that ends the tax-exempt status of professional sports leagues, as a part of the committee's broad base tax reform overhaul.
Part of Holmes County lies in the state's First District, which Gaetz represents.
The bill "levels the playing field," Gaetz said in an interview last week. "Special interests don't get special carve-outs."
In his letter, Gaetz asserts the bill, if approved, will lead to $150 million in new revenue over the next decade.
"It is hard to believe that professional sports, which generates billions of dollars in revenue a year, are given special carve-outs in the tax code -- carve-outs that are not given to the businesses and families in our districts," Gaetz said in the letter to the committee.
As a gesture of resistance to racial injustices on a national scale, kneeling during the national anthem has become a signature for players to peacefully protest. However, the trend has punted far off field for some Americans.
"I love the NFL," he said in the interview. "I just don't love them enough to subsidize their conduct with my own money. And I don't think most Americans do either."
The NFL and the Major League Baseball (MLB) ended claiming nonprofit tax exemptions in 2015 and 2007, respectively.
However, Gaetz pointed out, that at anytime -- without a rule set in place to bar them -- they may revert back to claiming tax exemptions as nonprofit organizations.
"They could choose any year to not pay taxes, and that's not a choice other businesses in my district can do," he said.
In response to a question regarding the rights of Americans, even rich athletes, to peacefully protest and assemble, Gaetz responded: "I just think people should protest on their own time, on their own dime."
The NFL has revenues of about $10 billion a year.