As an organization, we hold many mixed feelings concerning the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We’ve already expressed some concerns about its impact on middle and lower-income fans. Since these folks represent a vast majority of sports fans, we have trouble wholeheartedly supporting the legislation.
Having said that, these last few months, as you may know, SFC has been working hard trying to pass a separate bill known as HR 811, No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act, sponsored by Oklahoma congressman Steve Russell. This legislation would end the federal financing of sports stadium construction, which has been a major pain point for pro-consumer groups like us. Closing that loophole is a big deal.
Now, having read more about TCJA since its passage, we find ourselves even further dismayed by its possible effects. Yesterday, various news organizations reported on a concealed provision that would end the college donation tax deduction, a clause which has benefited universities and fans alike. Let’s talk about it.
Americans have long been able to write-off donations made to colleges and universities’ academic and athletic programs. Some schools, such as LSU, take in huge money from these alumnae contributions. We are talking $50 to 60 million annually. Ignoring our feelings on how college sports is becoming corporatized, the fact remains that these big donors ensure other seats remain affordable. Up to 80% of these contributions were eligible to be reimbursed.
If we scrap this write-off entirely as House Republicans have agreed to do, we are disincentivizing wealthy Americans to donate to their alma mater. Since that money is such a significant source of revenue for NCAA sports programs, many suspect schools would be forced to raise ticket prices and other expenses across the board.
Here at SFC, we commit ourselves to advancing policy that will help you, our members. It is becoming increasingly clear, as we read more and more about this tax bill, that when evaluated in its entirety, the average fan is less likely to afford a game. Even though section 3604 is excellent, and ends the federal subsidy of sports stadiums, there is a lot more that worries us. We will continue to advocate for Rep. Russell’s HR 811 by itself because that is a great bill!