When it comes to sports and taxes, I’m like most Americans. I like downing a beer and watching a good game every now and again, and I’m fine with paying my fair share of taxes for genuine societal necessities. What I’m not OK with is paying a skyrocketing Sports Tax at a time of burgeoning deficits, reduced household income and serious cutbacks to social safety net programs.
That term – Sports Tax – is not hyperbolic. In a week that saw Louisiana fork over $5 million to the NFL for the privilege of helping that league make big Super Bowl money, Sports Tax is the most accurate catch-all label for the four sets of levies the public is being made to shell out.
The first Sports Tax comes from the higher taxes we all pay in order to fund direct handouts. Just as NFL owners convinced Louisiana politicians to give them that $5 million taxpayer subsidy, similar collusions between team owners and lawmakers have been forcing taxpayers everywhere to do much the same. In all, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that “taxpayers have committed $18.6 billion since 1992 to subsidies for the NFL’s 32 teams, counting the expense of building stadiums, forgone real estate taxes, land and infrastructure improvements, and interest costs on public bonds.” That’s almost $1 billion every year – and that’s just for football, meaning the figure isn’t even counting similar handouts for other leagues.