Saturday, November 5, 2011

HEAT Check: U.S. Tax Law Proves Bryant Gumbel Was Right About David Stern

United States tax law called professional ballplayers chattel before Bryant Gumbel accused David Stern of treating them like slaves.

The latest podcast at the Wages of Wins Journal features an interview with sports economist Rodney Fort, who is an expert on a tax advantage given to professional sports teams called the Roster Depreciation Allowance. The RDA is a mechanism pro sports franchises can use to turn profits into losses for tax purposes.

Fort's published research makes the following comparison to explain the RDA:
“A possible parallel is the depreciation of livestock that is purchased for work, breeding, or dairy purposes but not kept in an inventory account. Apparently, these types of livestock ‘wear out’ in their relative productive roles and the IRS allows them to be treated as depreciable assets for tax purposes.”
If pro players are treated like chattel for tax purposes, then was Bryant Gumbel so far off calling the NBA commissioner a “plantation owner”?

The RDA is eerily reminiscent of the three-fifths compromise ratified in the U.S. Constitution that only counted slaves as three-fifths a person for tax purposes.  It gives $40 Million Dollar Slaves a whole new meaning, in my opinion.

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