Thursday, February 20, 2014

Why isn't the U.S. Olympic Committee taxed?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 20, 2014 at 1:29 PM

click to enlarge MIKE FLEMING
  • Mike Fleming
The Olympics in Sochi is front and center, prompting a policy wonk with the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution to have a thought:

Why doesn't the U.S. Olympic Committee pay taxes?

Read the entire column here.

Or, here's an excerpt:

The law says tax exempt status is granted to groups that “foster national or international amateur sports competition.” But do the hyper-marketed modern games even remotely fit the ideal of amateur sports? Sure, some athletes who represent the U.S. are amateurs but a great many others are highly paid professionals or marketing magnets. Snowboarder Shaun White–who won no medals– makes a reported $8 million-a-year in endorsements.

And then there is USOC itself. By almost any standard, it is a commercial enterprise. It exists primarily to help organize a bi-annual made-for-TV entertainment extravaganza. Yes, it provides some support for athletes (though surprisingly little). But its real business is marketing itself and playing its part in a two-week orgy of athletic commercialization.
Back in 2009, the city provided the USOC with a new headquarters building downtown, which is still held by the City of Colorado Springs Public Facilities Authority but will be given to the USOC If it sticks around here long enough. The city also spent millions to renovate the Olympic Training Center, at Boulder Street and Union Boulevard.

Neither of those is subject to property taxes, of course, because the USOC is tax-exempt.

If you got to the El Paso County Assessor's website and search for United States Olympic Committee, you can see that the USOC's training center is worth $41.2 million. The USOC also owns a tract of land out east valued at $400,000.

So if it paid property taxes to the city, which it doesn't, that would amount to about $51,600 a year. That doesn't include any other agency's mill levy, such as the county or school district.

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