Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Obama Takes Aim at Tax Breaks for Athletic Donations, Stadium Construction

Kristi Dosh over at The Business of College Sports writes today that President Obama has proposed ending the tax-deduction for contributions to college athletic departments.   Currently, 80 percent of those donations are tax-deductible:
Would fans still donate if they no longer received that 80 percent tax deduction? One athletic director told me for my book Saturday Millionaires a couple of years ago that he thought donations would drop by as much as half without the deduction.

Would fans really be willing to give up their seats and all the years of points they’ve built up if they weren’t getting the tax deduction? I’m sure there would be some at the lower end of the scale who might not see it as such a good investment anymore, but I’m not wholly convinced it would have a major impact on giving.  I’d love to hear from those of you working in development in the comments section!
But even more interesting...Dosh notes the budget plan also calls for an end to tax-exempt bonds financing facilities for pro sports teams. 
The plan states debt to finance those facilities would be taxable if 10 percent or more of the facility is used for a private business (i.e., a professional sports team). Implementation is projected to be worth $542 million in tax revenue over ten years.
I've previously pointed out tax-exempt bonds are the leading mechanism for municipalities to finance stadium construction, since they offer lower interest rates than private teams could typically get themselves.  And Field of Schemes author Neil deMause has pointed out stadiums were never supposed to get tax-exempt bonds after passage of the 1986 Tax Reform Act, but sports teams found ways around it.

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