The National Football League (NFL) is a nonprofit entity. Under the Internal Revenue Service tax code, the NFL has a 501(c)(6) status. A 501(c)(6) designation means the NFL has the same status granted to chambers of commerce. The Professional Golfers Association Tour (PGA) and the National Hockey League NHL are also 501c6 organizations.
Charity is what most people think when they hear the word “nonprofit.” Organizations like the Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity come to mind. There are many types of nonprofits. The NFL is not a charitable organization, it is a trade organization. According to the IRS, the organization has tax-exempt status under IRC
IRC 501(c)(6) provides for exemption of business leagues, chambers of commerce, real estate boards, boards of trade, and professional football leagues (whether or not administering a pension fund for football players), which are not organized for profit and no part of the net earnings of which injures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual.
This tax-exempt status does not apply to the league’s 32 individually owned franchise teams. They are all for-profit businesses.
In 2013, the 990 form filed by the NFL showed the organization had a loss of -$304,462,262. Therefore, even if they had their tax-exempt status revoked, US taxpayers would have collected nothing last year! The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation estimates state that if the NHL, NFL and PGA all lost their nonprofit status, US taxpayers could recoup over $11 million per year.