Stuff Everybody Ought to Know About the NFL Tax-Exemption

The NFL tax-exemption tempest

NFL Tax-ExemptionA recent post titled “Americans Think NFL Should Pay Taxes” by a columnist over at Bloomberg.net has created a bit of a tempest about the National Football League tax-exemption. 

The NFL and its teams are reported to be a $9.5 billion enterprise. And the post and others appear to say that none of that’s taxed, because “the NFL” is tax-exempt.

If the tempest shows up during the Super Bowl party this weekend, I want to be prepared. I’m no football expert, but I do know stuff about tax-exemption.

So, I did a bit of digging

I went to CharityCheck101.org and sure enough, I found that the National Football League (NFL) is a nonprofit, based in New York City.

  • CharityCheck101.org also told me that the NFL is not a charity and donations to it are not deductible as charitable contributions.
  • It is a nonprofit, not under section 501(c)(3) but under section 501(c)(6).
  • Section 501(c)(6) covers business leagues, chambers of commerce, professional football leagues and similar organizations.
  • CharityCheck101.org also told me the NFL’s EIN (employer identification number). Because because it’s a nonprofit, its EIN is public information.
  • The EIN is 13-1922622.
  • Read the NFL’s CharityCheck101.org report.
  • Learn more about nonprofit and charity EINs.

NFL IRS return is public

IRS symbolNot only is the NFL’s EIN public, so are its annual tax returns on Form 990.

  • Armed with the NFL’s EIN, within 30 seconds I found its latest return by entering its EIN at the National Center for Charitable Statistics website.
  • You can use the NCCS search page.
  • Using the NCCS search page, I found the latest return for the NFL. You can read it too — remember, it’s public. Click here for the return.

Things the NFL return told me

The return’s quite interesting — and the nonprofit known as the NFL is a big business.

  • But it’s separate organization from the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks and all the other teams.
  • The nonprofit is what I think they refer to as the “league office.” It’s where the Commissioner hangs out, and fines paid by teams go.

A few highlights from my quick scan of the return. The return covered the period ended March 31, 2012.

  • The NFL nonprofit had assets of $823 million, and owed $1.139 billion — so it had negative net assets.
  • The NFL nonprofit took in $255 million and spent $333 million — so it had a loss of $78 million.
  • 99.7% of its revenues were from member dues and assessments.
  • It made a grant of $2.1 million to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • Commissioner Roger Goodell was paid more than $29 million.

Remember, you can find every nonprofit currently recognized by the IRS at CharityCheck101.org, where you can find its EIN and check both its identity and tax status.