AS MASTERS APPROACHES, ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION SHOULD BE A FOCAL POINT, SAYS BILL’S SPONSOR
WASHINGTON, DC - Legislation that would end tax breaks for business functions at clubs that discriminate deserves more attention in Congress, says the bill’s sponsor as the Augusta National Golf Club prepares to hold The Masters this weekend. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), who along with Reps. Brad Sherman (CA-27) and Louise Slaughter (NY-28) introduced the Ending Tax Breaks for Discrimination Act (HR 2418) last year, says that, before another Masters is played at a club that does not admit women, Congress should take action to prevent taxpayers from subsidizing the use of discriminatory clubs.
“They say The Masters is a ‘Tradition Unlike Any Other,’ but Americans have learned that at Augusta, it’s a tradition of discrimination,” said Maloney. “The club has become more than a symbol of excellent golf - it’s now a symbol of egregious sexual discrimination, too. But Augusta is only the most visible example of discrimination.
“While all eyes are on Augusta for one weekend each year, taxpayers need to know that they are unwittingly helping foot the bill for business functions at discriminatory clubs every single day. We’re talking about taxpayer-funded discrimination to the tune of millions of dollars. If Congress doesn’t act on this, it’s like telling taxpayers that discrimination is okay.”
Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that, over the next 10 years, this legislation would be worth $52 million for the federal government in taxes paid for business functions at clubs that discriminate (http://maloney.house.gov/sites/maloney.house.gov/files/documents/olddocs/FairPlayEqualAccess/091203DiscriminationScore.pdf).
Maloney was outspoken in her criticism of Augusta, even before she introduced the legislation. Last April, she joined National Council of Women’s Organizations Chair Martha Burk at Augusta to protest during The Masters.
Background on the bill:
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.
THE MALONEY/SHERMAN/SLAUGHTER 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.
In April 2003 alone, major corporations did not participate at all or at prior levels at the Masters Golf Tournament, held at the Augusta National Golf Club, thus not spending and not expensing the millions of dollars they have in the past including: IBM, Citigroup, and Coca-Cola, General Motors, Cadillac, Georgia Pacific, Southern Company, J.P. Morgan Chase, Lucent Technologies and American Express.
Many consumer-oriented companies stayed away from Augusta because they didn't want to risk alienating customers - both men and women - who believe that sex discrimination is intolerable.
CURRENTLY COSPONSORED BY (22):
Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14); Brad Sherman (CA-27); Louise Slaughter (NY-28); Jesse Jackson, Jr. (IL-2); Zoe Lofgren (CA-16); Sheila Jackson-Lee (TX-18); Major Owens (NY-11); Madeleine Bordallo (GU); Donald Payne (NJ-10); John Conyers (MI-14); Elijah Cummings (MD-7); Danny Davis (IL-7); Barney Frank (MA-4); Martin Frost (TX-24); Stephanie Tubbs Jones (OH-11); Dennis Kucinich (OH-10); Zoe Lofgren (CA-16); Betty McCollum (MN-4); Juanita Millender-McDonald (CA-37); Jerrold Nadler (NY-8); Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC); Charles Rangel (NY-15); Janice Schakowsky (IL-9); Lynn Woolsey (CA-6)