Inside Gopher Athletics: Scholarship Seating and Tax Changes


Dec. 18, 2017 

By Mark Coyle

In light of recent news that the federal tax reform bill has been passed through both houses of the legislature on its way to potentially becoming law, today we reached out to every fan who has invested in our student-athletes by supporting Scholarship Seating with their Gopher season ticket purchases to outline how one change in the tax code may impact their ability to write-off that contribution.

One of the many changes this bill will put into effect - should it become law - will remove what was commonly called the "80/20 rule," which allows taxpayers to write-off 80 percent of charitable contributions attached to event tickets. In our case specifically, this deduction has been available to fans who owned season tickets in Scholarship Seating areas for football, men's and women's basketball, men's hockey and volleyball.

This change to tax law would mean Scholarship Seating contributions will no longer be 80 percent tax-deductible. Should this become law, you will not be able to write-off any of your Scholarship Seating donations next year.

While tax law may change, what has not and will not change is the impact your investment makes in the lives of Gopher student-athletes. You were part of investing more than $11 million in our department last year. Those Scholarship Seating donations made up approximately 10 percent of our total operating budget, critical to providing more than $12 million in scholarship support for Gopher student-athletes.

Something else that has not changed is the people supported by your investment, some of the brightest student-athletes in the country. We have been the No. 1 public school in the nation for student-athlete academic performance each of the past four years according to the NCAA's Public Recognition Awards for academics. We finished last year with a department-record GPA across our student-athlete population (3.24), we announced a department-record Graduation Success Rate this year (92 percent), and all of this with 700-plus students pursuing more than 80 different majors.

The new federal tax code may change how you account for your Scholarship Seating investment, but it will not change the significance of your investment to current and future Gophers.

As we shared in our email to fans who may be impacted by this change, our Golden Gopher Fund staff is happy to discuss questions you may have. The best way to contact them is to call (612) 626-4653 or email ggf@umn.edu. Of course, as recommended in that same email, we encourage anyone with specific questions about their personal taxes to reach out to a professional tax adviser.

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