Industry News

US tax bill hits college sports tickets

College sports organisations in the US may soon be forced to change their ticketing policies if a federal tax reform bill is passed.

The legislation, which was approved in the Senate yesterday (Wednesday), and in the House later the same day, would remove boosters’ ability to take a tax deduction on the donation related to their season tickets.

A booster is simply defined as someone who financially supports a school athletic department or has been involved in promoting a school’s athletic organisations.

Previously, college sports fans could deduct 80 per cent of the donation that is necessary to get prime seats.

Around 47 per cent of Americans follow college sports, with close to 31 million people attended a college sports event in 2016, according to a survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

Over the past few weeks, as uncertainty about the effects of the new law took hold, several colleges have emailed boosters to highlight the fact that donating money before January 1 for the 2018 season would give them the current deduction.

Southern Methodist University, Florida State and Oklahoma (pictured) have all offered boosters the ability to pay for multiple years of season-ticket donations up front to be able to take advantage of the current deduction.

Oklahoma has suggested a plan called Pay It Forward by which donors can pay the next three years of fees in this calendar year, so that they could benefit from the deduction.

“These are not easy suggestions to make,” Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “Because you can’t just paint everyone with a broad brush. You have to know who these people are and their capacity to do what you are suggesting because they’re all at different income levels.”

Castiglione said it’s way too early to know how hard the schools will be hit, but he said he has “come to the conclusion that the impact is going to be significant.”