May 01, 2014



(Washington, DC) -- Today, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) introduced legislation to protect American taxpayers from being forced to pay part of league fines incurred by professional sports owners.

Many Americans are not aware that when a professional sports owner is fined by their respective league, for violating the rules of that league, taxpayers get penalized at the same time. The “Stop Penalizing Taxpayers for Sports Owner Fouls” Act (H.R. 4544) would stop the owners of sports teams from being able to deduct fines as a “business expense.”

“Right now, multi-millionaire owners get a tax break for egregious behavior, a tax burden shared by all Americans,” said Cárdenas. “This loophole is unacceptable. My legislation will close the loophole, ensuring that these owners are the only people who bear financial accountability for their behavior.”

While the most recent case of such a fine is the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s historic penalty against Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles Clippers owner is hardly the first to benefit from this tax break. Sterling’s $2.5 million fine compares to another NBA owner, Mark Cuban, who was recently fined $100,000, for a career fine total of nearly $2 million.

National Football League (NFL) owners are also not strangers to tax breaks for fines. Former San Francisco owner Eddie DeBartolo and Tennessee/Houston owner Bud Adams were fined significant sums of money.

Many owners receive these tax breaks on top of already substantial taxpayer funding and tax loopholes related to stadiums and other infrastructure.

“Being fined for violating the rules of your league is NOT the same as a shop owner on Main Street paying to have a new sign hung in front of their business,” said Cárdenas. “One is a business expense, the other is a punishment. The American people are happy to help small businesses grow, but paying fines for multi-millionaires, subsidizing bad behavior, should not be the responsibility of American taxpayers.”

The legislation would address any fines imposed after December 31, 2013.

Click here for the full text of H.R. 4544