Report: Billionaire sports owners use tax law to write off millions each year, including Panthers owner

Sports

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — A new report by ProPublica shows that billionaire sports owners are able to use a tax law to write off tens of millions of dollars each year.

The article mentioned several owners, including Panthers owner, David Tepper.

According to the report, Tepper is able to temporarily write off around $140 million every year after buying the Panthers in 2018.

Big hits and big games often mean big money for the Carolina Panthers. There are some big savings happening at Bank of America Stadium as well, just for owner David Tepper.

“Colleagues and I have been working on this for a few months, and it’s drawing from a set of sensitive tax records that ProPublica has obtained, including a lot of billionaire sports owners,” said Justin Elliott.

Elliott is an investigative journalist at ProPublica, which is a non-profit journalism outlet. He and his colleagues published a report on Friday that found that billionaire sports owners often pay less in taxes compared to the players on the teams.

“We certainly are not saying David Tepper doesn’t pay a lot of taxes, but I can say, generally speaking, the owners including, David Tepper, pay a lower tax rate than the highly paid players playing for them, and that’s a consistent,” said Elliott.

How?

Well, Tepper bought the Panthers in 2018 for about $2.3 billion. According to the report, for the next 15 years, Tepper gets to use that purchase as a temporary tax write-off that equals about $140 million a year.

“That means for the next 15 years, the Tepper family is getting this large tax deduction which they can use to offset the income they’re getting from other sources,” said Nathan Goldman.

Goldman is a business tax expert at North Carolina State University. He said, this is perfectly legal and Tepper will, eventually, have to pay the money back if he sells the team. However, it will likely be a fraction of what it would have been if the loophole wasn’t there.

“These people are not tax criminals. They are following the tax rules, and they just happen to be in an industry where the rules are behind the reality,” said Goldman.

The old saying goes, nothing’s certain but death and taxes. But in Tepper’s case, only one of those is true. If he owns the team until he passes away, he’ll never have to pay.

“So if an owner amortizes 90 percent of a team they own and they pass away, his or her descendants won’t have to repay those taxes deferred,” said Goldman. He said, there is an inheritance tax but it would be minuscule compared to what Tepper would owe.

This report comes a few weeks after Tepper told reporters the Panthers stadium needs to be fixed and taxpayers should help with the bill.

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