by Joseph Coletti
Senior Fellow, Fiscal Studies, John Locke Foundation
A blog post yesterday explained the special tax break for the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Knights that is back again before the General Assembly, this time buried in a bill that would do two important things: 1) rectify North Carolina’s confusing criminal code and 2) allow businesses to file annual reports to the Secretary of State more easily online.
That post began, “Bad legislative ideas never die, they just get tucked in other bills,” but did not specify why the tax break is a bad idea.
Governments subsidize pro sports teams and their facilities. Many local governments own their local pro sport stadium or arena and charge rents that do not cover operating costs under mistaken assumptions about the economic benefits that accrue.
Charlotte and Mecklenburg County left ownership of Bank of America Stadium and BB&T BallPark with the teams, but helped finance construction and have provided the land under the stadiums as a gift. Without a tax on the value of that gift, every team (and every other person and business in the state) would look for a way to convert their land to government ownership and receive it back for free.