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NFL opposes IRS' expanded salary reporting rule

So what are NFL suits afraid of? Being laughed at for making too little money.

I'm not laughing. Are you? Heck, I'm not even smiling. I'm sitting here with my jaw hanging open at the latest example of National Football League audacity.

First, the NFL cried to Congress about how the mean old cable companies aren't giving them everything the league wants when it comes to putting the NFL Channel on regular vs. premium tiers. Just work it out, children, and let us fans with cable see the damn games!

Now the league is back on Capitol Hill whining asking for another favor. This time it wants to be specifically exempted from new IRS rules that require tax-exempt organizations to disclose salaries of additional key employees.

Much profit nonprofit: Yes, it's true. The NFL, probably the richest sports league in the United States, operates as a nonprofit, a situation that periodically raises eyebrows, for example, here and here.

Referee_about_to_throw_flag_2 A few years ago, a league spokesman tried to clear up exactly what the nonprofit structure means. The NFL, you see, is just "like any other trade association. We’re set up to perform certain functions on behalf of the teams. We’re funded by other entries whose revenue is subject to all appropriate taxes. If the networks send us $100, then that $100 goes out to the teams, and it’s taxed at that level.”


And in keeping with the tax rules for all tax-exempt organizations, the NFL has reported the income of its top official in its annual IRS Form 990 filings. That's how we learned that the NFL Commissioner, currently Roger Goodell, rakes in almost $10 million a year.

Expanded reporting rules: But now, the IRS wants data on nonprofit key employees who earn $150,000 or more.

This expanded reporting requirement, according to a story in today's New York Times, has some folks in the league office throwing fits and penalty flags.

One NFL executive vice president complained to the newspaper, "I finally get to the point where I’m making 150 grand, and they want to put my name and address on the form so the lawyer next door who makes a million dollars a year can laugh at me."

Hold on while I go get a Kleenex to wipe away my tears of, yes, laughter.

This guy's big concern is his neighbors will think he's a low-paid chump? If he keeps talking like that, their estimation of him will probably drop regardless of how much money he makes.

All employees aren't equal: If I worked for the NFL, I also would be upset at the league's interpretation of this new reporting rule.

The tax code requires nonprofits to disclose names and salaries of "key employees." But, notes the Times, the NFL says the commish is the only one who fits that definition.

Nice to know that your employer really appreciates your efforts, isn't it?

Click here to read more on the hand-wringing at the NFL headquarters, as well as why Sen. Charles Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, thinks such expanded disclosure is a good idea.

Referee photo courtesy USA Football.


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