As America’s Taxes Fall Due on Equal Pay Day, Rep. Carolyn Maloney Re-Introduces “Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act of 2012” to Ban Tax Deductions at Clubs That Discriminate
Washington, D.C. – Today, as America marks “Equal Pay Day” Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) re-introduced her “Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act of 2012” legislation that would end tax breaks for doing business at clubs that discriminate, such as Augusta National Golf Club, home to golf’s celebrated Masters.
“As we mark equal pay day, the unfortunate truth is that women are still paid less than men for the same work. The pay gap has stayed virtually the same despite the fact that women constitute a majority of the people in college, almost half the workforce, more than of all managers and professionals, and own nearly 1/3 of American businesses. But something else also persists: we know that if our society and our economy give women equal opportunity, we will get equal pay,” said Congresswoman Maloney.
“That’s why today on Equal Pay Day – and on the day that taxes are due – I am re-introducing my ‘Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act of 2012,’ which would deny a federal business expense deduction for expenses associated with any club or organization that discriminates against women,” said Maloney.
“Earlier this month, Augusta National Golf Club, home to golf’s celebrated Masters Tournament, blew a ‘gimme’ when it refused to extend Club membership to the new CEO of one the three sponsors of the Masters, IBM, a courtesy extended to IBM’s past four CEOs. The reason for the snub was that this CEO, Virginia Rometty, happened to be female. Instead of recognizing the accomplishments of Ms. Rometty, and women all across this nation, by breaking with an outdated tradition, Augusta blew an easy putt,” she said.
Last Friday, Representative Maloney sent a letter to Augusta National's Chairman, William Payne, saying in part, “A woman can run a great company, she can run a country, she can run circles around her competition, she can be at the top of her profession, but Augusta National Golf Club believes she cannot be a member of its club simply because she is female.... I believe that Augusta National’s exclusionary policy is on the losing end of history.”
The full text of that letter is below, followed by background on the issue.
Maloney has been outspoken for many years in her criticism of Augusta, even before she introduced the legislation. Previously, she has joined Martha Burk, Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, at Augusta to protest during The Masters.
April 13, 2012
William Porter Payne
Augusta National Golf Club
2604 Washington Road
Augusta, GA 30904
Dear Chairman Payne,
Augusta National Golf Club is a place of traditions – a tradition unlike any other. One of its traditions has been that it honors the chief executive officers of the sponsors of the Masters by granting them membership in the club. Another tradition has been that it has excluded women. This year, because Virginia Rometty is chief executive officer of IBM, one of the three sponsors of the Masters, the two traditions collided. Augusta could not maintain the one without violating the other. Like many, I watched to see which of the two traditions was stronger. I am disappointed to see that, apparently, Augusta National Golf Club has turned its back on the tradition of honoring its sponsors and has not extended membership to a truly remarkable woman, a business leader of great renown and a golf player.
A woman can run a great company, she can run a country, she can run circles around her competition, she can be at the top of her profession, but Augusta National Golf Club believes she cannot be a member of its club simply because she is female. There is a wide and growing consensus that this is a policy whose time has long since past. There are not many things in this world that Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, President Obama and I can all agree on. But this is one of them. It is long past time to break the gender barrier at Augusta National.
Augusta National may be a private club, but its policies on the admission of women have a national impact because of the Masters. This past Sunday as the fourth round of the Masters began, families all over America gathered together to watch the Masters. The fact that this tournament takes place at a club known to discriminate against women perpetuates old stereotypes of women and continues to hurt women’s advancement. It sends a terrible message to young girls that they can never hope to be admitted to a club that includes many of the nation’s most important business leaders, and it sends an even worse message to young boys that it is acceptable to discriminate against women.
Augusta National is, above all, a place for business leaders to network and do business. Warren Buffet, Jack Welch and Bill Gates were not invited to become members because they were some of the world’s greatest golfers. They were invited because they are some of the world’s most important business leaders. Virginia Rometty is also one of the world’s most important business leaders, and she would clearly fit in well among Augusta National’s members.
Augusta National’s all-male policies deprive women of the business opportunities that flow from membership. In my view, America should not encourage a discriminatory policy by offering a business tax deduction so individuals can write off membership or expenses associated with meetings at a club that discriminates on the basis of sex.
I believe that Augusta National’s exclusionary policy is on the losing end of history. There are an increasing number of women at the top of major companies, universities and government. And ultimately, this policy will fall because your members will want to play golf with these decision-makers. I only wish that Augusta National would have the courage to offer membership to Virginia Rometty. Perhaps it was not right to do it while the glare of the spotlight from the Masters was on you. But now that the cameras have moved on, Augusta National could simply and quietly, in keeping with the finest traditions of your club, grant membership to the CEO of IBM and other similarly deserving women.
Very truly yours,
CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Member of Congress
Current Internal Revenue Code allows business expenses to be deducted from Federal income tax that are associated with private clubs. This includes business related expenses for conventions, travel, accommodations, and advertising. Dues are not deductible. Business expenses that are directly associated with promoting and doing business at these clubs, as well as fifty percent of business meals are allowable.
REP. MALONEY’S BILL:
• Denies the deduction for business expenses for use of clubs that discriminate on the basis of sex, race or color, including any amount paid or incurred:
-to any private discriminatory club;
-for use of services or facilities of any private discriminatory club ;
-for transportation, meals, lodging, and other traveling expenses or incurred in connection with use of any private discriminatory club;
• Denies the deduction for any amount paid or incurred for:
-advertising of any event held at any facility of a private discriminatory club;
-advertising for any product or service advertised on broadcast media during or associated with media coverage of any such event;
• Defines private discriminatory club as any club organized for business, pleasure, recreation or other social purpose if the club restricts membership or use of services or facilities on the basis of sex, race or color.
• Requires receipts for disallowed expenses to carry the printed statement, “The expenditures covered by this receipt are nondeductible for Federal income tax purposes;
There are over 3000 private country clubs in the U.S. It is currently not known how many of these clubs discriminate against women. At least twenty-four male-only clubs have been identified in the popular press.
Annually corporations spend untold amounts of money and legitimately expense them as business deductions from Federal income taxes.