BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Historic tax reform in Washington has some at LSU worried about what it could mean for the future of athletics.
For years, LSU Athletics has relied on donations to help pay for new facilities and programs. The new law, passed by Republicans in Congress and signed by the President Donald Trump, eliminates a tax break associated with those donations, making LSU leaders nervous about whether people will continue to give.
"We're in uncharted waters right now," said Rick Perry, president and CEO of the Tiger Athletic Foundation. "We're probably looking at least one or two years before we get a real feel, because I think people are going to have to go through the cycle of paying their taxes, seeing how it affects them individually."
Recently, the university has raked in roughly $50 million through required donations associated with season ticket purchases. In order to purchase season tickets, people are required to make a donation. The value of that "donation" varies depending on where in the stadium the seats are located. For years, taxpayers could write off up to 80 percent of that donation as charitable giving. Perry says the average donation is about $800 per season ticket, meaning an individual could claim up to $640 per seat.
However, the tax overhaul eliminates that tax break. Perry says he believes folks could now think twice before buying tickets or giving. "We'll probably be very conservative in our budgeting for the coming year as far as expenditures go, just because there are so many," he said. Perry says they are asking potential season ticket buyers to consult a tax expert to determine how they should proceed. That could include donating earlier, before the end of the current year.
Other Louisiana non-profits are a little more optimistic about what the tax bill could mean for them. John Spain with the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF) says their donors give simply because they want to. "They're not primarily here for a tax deduction," he said.
BRAF helps their donors coordinate their philanthropic efforts, from donating to churches and non-profits to disaster recovery efforts and development projects. He says even if the tax rewrite ends up reducing deductions people can claim, it will not stop them from giving.
"Our donors are always asking us for where they might help, where are the needs," he said.
All members of Louisiana's congressional delegation voted in favor of the tax overhaul with one exception: the sole Democrat, Rep. Cedric Richmond.