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NFL's not nonprofit anymore

I read in the MT on Feb. 17 that National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell earned $34 million in 2014, including a $26.5 million bonus. Is it true that the NFL is a nonprofit? If so, why? Also, I'm wondering if the NBA, NHL and PGA are nonprofits.

— Betsy, Ashland

The NFL was a nonprofit organization this time last year, but last April the league announced it would end its tax-exempt status.

From 1942 to 2015, the NFL filed as a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization, similar to business leagues and trade groups such as the American Medical Association.

According to a Washington Post article, Roger Goodell announced the change in a letter to team owners and members of Congress on April 28, calling the tax-exempt status a "distraction." Goodell argued that the income the league generated through television rights fees, licensing agreements, sponsorships and ticket sales is taxable at the team level. The teams themselves are for-profit entities.

One of the reasons for the switch is evidenced in your question, Betsy. As a nonprofit organization, the NFL was required to file yearly tax forms that disclosed details such as how much Roger Goodell made.

In regards to your second question, some major sports leagues are nonprofit and others are for-profit. The National Hockey League and Professional Golfers Association are nonprofit organizations. Major League Baseball ended its nonprofit status in 2007, and the National Basketball Association and NASCAR have always been for-profit.

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