How the NFL avoids paying millions in taxes

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:

Seattle Seahawks guard J.R. Sweezy wears a Super Bowl XLVIII patch on his jersey during a media availability Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J. The Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are scheduled to play in the Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

With all eyes on the Super Bowl, the Seahawks and the NFL, KIRO 7 took a closer look at the NFL’s financial paperwork.

It turns out the league is a nonprofit.

When KIRO 7 told Seahawks fans, they found it hard believe.

Tax documents show the NFL is a nonprofit that makes $250 million a year in the form of dues from all NFL member teams. The league pays no federal incomes taxes on that money.

The NFL is not considered a charity like a church or the Red Cross. In the eyes of the law, the league is actually more like a neighborhood chamber of commerce.

A chamber usually collects a few hundred dollars in dues from restaurants and antique shops, and in return it promotes local business. The NFL collects about $8 million from the Seahawks and each of the other 31 teams in return for hiring refs, making schedules, selling jerseys and negotiating billion-dollar TV deals.

All the profits go back to the teams and they pay normal taxes on that money.

Still, the Seahawks and other teams can write off the $8 million as a “necessary ... business expense.”

Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn is trying to eliminate the tax break for big sports leagues. But he has yet to get much support, even from fellow conservatives.

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