Skip to main content Skip to office menu Skip to footer
Capital IconMinnesota Legislature

Should a portion of a college sports ticket be tax deductible? Bill says ‘yes’

Say you’re attending a University of Minnesota football game at TCF Bank Stadium and start chatting with a fellow fan across the aisle. It probably won’t come up in your conversation, but there’s a good possibility that they paid a lot more for their ticket than you did.

Why? Because they may be in a section deemed a “preferred viewing location” by the university. And that means that the difference between their ticket price and yours goes entirely toward athletic scholarships. It’s called a “scholarship seating donation.”

So is it a donation or a purchase? And, if it is a donation, should it be tax deductible?

It would be under a bill sponsored by Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Mpls). HF298, which was replaced by a delete-all amendment, would make the portion of a college sporting event ticket earmarked for scholarships a tax-deductible donation.

Would that lower your ticket price, sports fan? No, but it would make more money available for scholarships, as the school would no longer have to pay those sales taxes. On Thursday, the House Taxes Committee laid the bill over for possible inclusion in an omnibus tax bill. It’s estimated that the bill’s provisions would decrease revenue to the state’s General and Legacy Funds by $930,000 in fiscal year 2022.

The bill’s companion, SF695, sponsored by Sen. Greg Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley), awaits action by the Senate Taxes Committee.

“These type of programs are used in University of Minnesota football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s hockey and volleyball,” Noor said. “They’re also used in UMD [University of Minnesota-Duluth] hockey. … We are the only state we know of that taxes these donations. The state granted an exemption to the Vikings stadium [for seat licenses]. I think it’s appropriate to do it for the university.”

For the 2019-20 school year, the University of Minnesota reported the portion of season ticket prices collected as scholarship seating donations as totaling $12.1 million.

“Scholarships are a lifeline,” said Quincy Lewis, director of the “M” Club alumni organization and one of the all-time leading scorers for the university’s men’s basketball program. “Today, I’m asking that our system can live up to its promise that if these kids work hard in the classroom and in their sport, they’ll find success. Scholarships are the bridge between dreams and reality.”

Lewis added that, while five sports collect the scholarship donations at the university, the revenue would be used for scholarships in all sports.

Related Articles

Priority Dailies

House passes tax package that includes rebate checks, $1 billion in new revenues
Rep. Aisha Gomez and House Majority Leader Jamie Long talk during a break in the May 20 debate on HF1938, the tax finance and policy bill. (Photo by Catherine Davis) Is it the largest tax cut in Minnesota history? Or the biggest tax hike the state has ever experienced? Could it be both? That’s the crux of the debate about the conference ...
House passes finalized cannabis legalization bill, sends it to Senate
A supporter of cannabis legalization demonstrates in front of the Capitol in 2021. The House repassed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis, as amended in conference committee, May 18 and sent HF100 to the Senate. (House Photography file photo) The House gave the green light to adult-use recreational cannabis Thursday. “The day has finally arrived. Today is the day that we are going to vote here in the House for th...

Minnesota House on Twitter