NFL Tax Exemption Could Be In Jeopardy Over Washington Redskins Name Controversy

The NFL could be losing its tax exemption unless the league’s owners agree to change the name of the Washington Redskins football team.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) announced on Tuesday plans to introduce legislation revoking the IRS tax exemption given to the NFL. Cantwell is the former chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and on Tuesday was joined by several trial chiefs who supported the effort to change the name of the Washington Redskins.

“The NFL needs to join the rest of Americans in the 21st century. It is about right and wrong.”

Cantwell’s effort to revoke the NFL tax exemption is supported by the group Change the Mascot, a broad coalition of groups calling on the owners of the 31 other NFL teams force Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s name.

In May, Cantwell joined 50 other Senators in penning a letter to the NFL trying to pressure Snyder to change the team’s name.

“We had to create momentum. This was the easiest way to create the momentum. Now we can hopefully get our colleagues to think more seriously about this, and to sign on, too. It’s just a proud moment, to get 50 people in the United States Senate to sign on. I don’t think we would have been able to do that a few years ago.”

But Snyder has rebuffed calls to change the team’s name, saying it is a term of respect and conveys the team’s rich history.

This is not the first effort to revoke the tax exemption given to the NFL. Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) also introduced a more wide ranging bill that would prevent any professional sports league from claiming non-profit tax exempt status.

Last year, Senator Tom Colburn (R-Oklahoma) sought to add an amendment to the Marketplace Fairness Act that would have revoked non-profit status to the NFL and other leagues. Coburn argued that taxpayers were losing out on close to $91 million a year thanks due to tax exemptions.

So far nearly all efforts to revoke the tax exemption given to the NFL have not reached a full vote in the Senate.