Sunday on MSNBC, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) made a case for H.R. 296, the Pro Sports Act, which is legislation that he recently became the lead sponsor and ends the tax-exempt status of professional sports leagues.
Gaetz told host Alex Witt that he had no objection to players exercising the First Amendment, but argued professional leagues that bring in billions of dollars in some cases should not be receiving a tax break as these protests are taking place.
“NFL players are certainly able to protest under the First Amendment,” Gaetz said. “I just think they ought to do it on their own time and on their own dime. Right now, one of the special interest loopholes in our tax code allows the league offices of professional sports leagues to avoid paying taxes. That’s crazy. That’s a special interest giveaway that the small businesses in my district certainly don’t have access to. And so, I have introduced legislation to abolish the special tax exemption that the NFL enjoys and that all other professional sports leagues enjoy. I think that’s fairer for folks on Main Street and folks in the middle class.”
The bill Gaetz is championing was originally the brainchild of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), who resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. The Florida congressman dismissed the notion it singled out those protesting racism given it eliminates the tax break for all professional sports leagues.
“This doesn’t single out anyone,” he added. “This legislation that I’ve taken over from Congressman Chaffetz would apply equally to all professional sports leagues. But certainly when you see a sports league like the NFL embrace what I perceive to be very unpatriotic activity, it leads to the question, why would we give folks that are engaged in this anti-Americanism some special break? It makes no sense. We sometimes use the tax code to try to achieve some social objective. Frankly, that’s not been something we have been successful at as a country. But why would we give them a special break? So that’s why I propose eliminating the break for everyone.”
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