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Taxes spur Steelers ownership deal

Are you ready for some football tax planning?

As soon as the presidential election results were finalized, some Major League Baseball players and agents starting making tax plans. Their concern (blogged here) is that their MLB incomes will be taxed at higher rates soon after Barack Obama is sworn in on Jan. 20.

Now the owners of an NFL team are following the Boys of Summer tax lead.

Steelers helmet Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney has been trying for months to put together a deal to buy out his four brothers' stakes in the team. That effort kicked into high gear when Obama was elected and, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, an agreement finally has been reached.

All business dealings with relatives are complicated. Add the big bucks of a professional sports team and the financial and familial pressure mounts.

The Rooney brothers told the Tribune-Review that their ownership situation also was hurried along by two other factors:

  1. NFL bylaws that demanded they divest from their increasingly lucrative casino gambling operations in Florida and New York; and

  2. Obama's election and the possibility that he might hike estate and capital gains taxes.

The late Art Rooney Sr. bought the football franchise in 1933 for $2,500. The team's value has been estimated at $800 million to $1.2 billion. The paper says that his four sons who are selling their shares in the team could get a total of $750 million after business debt is subtracted.


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