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Thanks, Obama: President's Budget Takes Aim At Ticket-Related Tax Breaks

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We diligently avoid political discussion on this site, for a variety of reasons. Political grandstanding over concussions, athlete compensation, and the place of athletic departments within the larger university firmament, we've generally side-stepped them all. However some in Washington are now seeking to intervene in college athletics in another way, one which may well affect your wallet.

Bloomberg Business reported earlier this week that the President's new budget looks to end the tax deduction for contributions to university athletic funds, like Georgia's Hartman Fund* and Basketball Enhancement Fund. The funds have been around for decades, and the tax deduction for contributions is a huge selling point. As Bloomberg notes, however, donations to qualifying charitable, educational, and similar organizations are generally offset by the value of any benefits secured by the donation. Consider, for a moment, what the fair market value was of national title game tickets secured by dutiful Ohio State boosters.

As the article notes, estimates are that ending this particular deduction would net about $2.6 billion in tax revenues. That's more than walking around money. But it's also about 0.5% of the nearly $500 billion deficit projected for 2014, which is actually as close to solvent as Uncle Sam has been since Matt Stafford was leading the Red and Black. While every dollar counts, this looks like breaking a lot of political eggs for a pretty small omelet.

Of course, like most of the President's budget, this proposal stands a snow ball's chance in Palm Beach of passing in a Republican Congress which relishes tax increases the way Mark Helfrich enjoys milking the play clock. But it is a reminder that Congress has never found an ATM it wouldn't stick its debit card in, and college sports is no different. It's also a reminder that Washington knows there's gold in the august halls of academia. And when the need/desire to get it is great (and politically expedient) enough, the tax man may just come to collect.

* Don't forget, Hartman Fund donations are due this week. How's that for a dynamite drop in? This blogging school has really paid off.