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No Tax Subsidies for NFL Stadiums

by Andrew Jones

It’s NFL Sunday, you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, and you turn on the TV to watch the Cowboys play the Atlanta Falcons. Which is more irritating: seeing the Falcons kneeling during the national anthem, or learning that you recently subsidized Atlanta’s building of a new Falcons stadium?

If you, in fact, are a taxpaying Cowboys fan, you did subsidize Atlanta’s new $1.6 billion stadium, just as the taxpaying Falcons fans subsidized the erection of Jerry World in 2009. Indeed, we all subsidize NFL stadiums.

This is because the Internal Revenue Code exempts state and local bonds issued to finance professional sports stadiums from taxation. An exemption from taxation means less taxation, and it is difficult to complain about that. The problem is that the tax code is then favoring one type of funding over another, which distorts the market and the flow of capital.

Our federal tax code is riddled with such favoritism, but out of the hundreds of thousands, subsidizing NFL stadiums has come to the forefront of the public’s attention. Why? Because kneeling NFL players have outraged patriotic football fans.

In response to this outrage, Congress is proposing legislation to amend the tax code to end the subsidization of professional sports stadiums, H.R. 811, the “No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act.” This legislation has both Republican and Democratic sponsors, presenting an interesting confluence of interests: Republicans want to punish the unpatriotic behavior of kneeling NFL players, while Democrats want to punish any “big” profit-generating private industry.

Should this legislation succeed, there will be more tax revenue for the government to spend, less favoritism in the tax code, and it will be a show of force against anti-Americanism. Looks like Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling wasn’t wasted effort; talk about killing not two, but three birds with one stone.

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