Local government bodies must return more than $500,000 in taxes the National Football League and its affiliates paid on expenses associated with the 2013 Super Bowl, according to city records obtained by The Lens through a public records request.
The city, the Orleans Parish School Board, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority and the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation agreed last spring to rebate their share of general sales, hotel-motel and hotel occupancy taxes to the NFL.
Under the agreement, the NFL could claim a rebate for taxes incurred on certain specified expenses between Oct. 1, 2012, and Feb. 10, 2013. Room rates and food and equipment purchases for official Super Bowl events qualified for the exemption. Mini-bar and alcohol purchases did not. The deal set an $800,000 cap on the rebates.
The NFL submitted requests totaling $514,480.38. The largest category was lodging expenses, totaling $371,310.01, much of that from pro teams. The Saints, though not in the Bowl, put in for a $696 room rebate.
The league is also asking for $51,920.10 in rebates on property taxes on equipment and $91,250.27 in sales taxes for event-related purchases.
As The Lens reported in April, tax refund agreements between the NFL and Super Bowl host cities are not uncommon. Before the 2012 Super Bowl, Indianapolis and the state of Indiana agreed to exempt NFL employees from sales and use tax.
The New Orleans deal applies to local taxes only:*
The 5 percent city sales tax, of which 2.5 percent goes to the city, 1.5 percent goes to the school board and 1 percent goes to the transit authority
The 4 percent local portion of the hotel-motel tax, of which 1.5 percent goes to the city, 1.5 percent goes to the school board and 1 percent goes to the transit authority
The hotel occupancy tax, ranging from $0.50 to $3.00 per room night depending on the size of the hotel, which goes to the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation
The original agreement required the NFL to submit its rebate request to the city, along with hundreds of pages in receipts, by June 4. That deadline was later pushed back to August 4. Records show that NFL Tax Director Bradley Firestone turned in the documents on August 5.
According to an email from NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, the city authorized the one-day extension, in writing, after realizing that the original deadline fell on a Sunday.
Mayoral spokesman Tyler Gamble confirmed that version of events, adding that the city usually grants extensions for deadlines that fall on Sundays.
McCarthy said the city is still reviewing the requests and the accompanying receipts. The city has until Nov. 3 — 90 days from August 5 — to complete that review and reimburse the NFL.
*Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that the business personal property tax was subject to the rebate. It was not, and that line has been removed from the story. (Sept. 25, 2013)