NFL's litany controversies could cost PGA Tour its tax-exempt status
Golf Biz

NFL’s litany controversies could cost PGA Tour its tax-exempt status

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A once-thought dead Senate bill that would strip the PGA Tour of its tax-exempt status has now been revived thanks to the seemingly unending series of NFL player arrests and controversies.

New Jersey senator Cory Booker introduced a bill on Tuesday very similar in nature to the one put forth by retiring Republican senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma. The bill would strip the NFL, PGA Tour and other sports leagues of their tax-exempt status, raising some $100 million in additional tax revenue over the next decade.


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Coburn introduced his bill in Sept. 2013 suggesting the NFL does nothing to promote the broader success of the sport of football, a fundamental requirement of being a 501(c)6 tax-exempt organization, which the NFL, PGA Tour and other sports leagues file as to the IRS. However, Booker has a different motivation: punishing the NFL for its handling of domestic and child abuse scandals involving Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy and Jonathan Dwyer. Washington Democratic senator Maria Cantwell supports the bill as punishment for the league refusing to change the name of the Washington Redskins franchise.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who is technically head of a non-profit organization, made $44. 2 million in 2012. By comparison, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem earned $3.7 million in 2010.

Booker intends to fund domestic violence programs with the money that would be raised by changing the tax code.

Not only would the PGA Tour be affected by this proposed legislation, so, too would the LPGA and PGA of America. To date, the PGA Tour and its tournaments have donated more than $2 billion to charitable organizations. A 2013 ESPN report derided the PGA Tour's charitable efforts, claiming they fell short of passthrough standards in the non-profit sector. However, the report used several misguided measures in assessing the Tour's charitable performance.

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