Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has introduced legislation this week that would end the tax-exempt status of the National Football League and other professional sports leagues, and use the tax revenue to fund domestic violence programs.
Booker's announcement came just as the NFL has come under increased scrutiny on the issue of domestic violence, as Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice has been suspended from the league after a video surfaced in which he punches his wife unconscious in an elevator. Another running back, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, has been suspended after he was indicted for child abuse.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is under pressure to resign for failing to appropriately punish a star running back for domestic violence. Now, one Democrat has proposed a bill to tax the league and use the money to fund domestic violence programs. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Booker made no mention of these specific scandals in the NFL on Tuesday, but his new bill is clearly aimed at connecting the idea of taking money from professional leagues and using it to fund programs aimed at stopping domestic violence.
"This legislation will help ensure that victims of domestic violence have the resources they need to break away from abusers and begin rebuilding their lives," Booker said.
"This commonsense update to our tax laws would save more than $100 million over 10 years – money that can instead be used to pay for vital support programs that have seen their funding slashed in recent years due to sequestration and gridlock," he added.
Ten pro sports leagues have tax-exempt status under current law, including the NFL, National Hockey League, Professional Golf Association and the U.S. Tennis Association. That status lets the main league offices avoid taxes, even though individual teams pay tax.
The National Basketball Association never had tax-exempt status, and Major League Baesball gave up this status in 2007.
Support for the idea of taxing pro sports leagues seems to be growing. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) indicated her support for the idea this week, and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) proposed a bill in 2013 that would end what he calls a "tax earmark."
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) is a supporter of Coburn's bill, and earlier this year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) proposed a House version of Coburn's bill.