Dan Springer, a Fox News correspondent, recently claimed that the University of Washington’s $250 million stadium renovation is being passed on to taxpayers, thus making Washingtonians responsible for the bill. His reasoning is based on the premise that funding for the stadium is coming from donors and charitable contributions hence costing the U.S. Treasury $154 million over 30 years. Since the donors receive a tax deduction for their voluntarily given contributions, Springer is essentially stating that these donors are inhibiting the tax revenue growth of the federal government.
In other words, Springer is advocating that the federal government has a right to collect taxes on 100 percent of your earnings, and if you take a tax deduction for something, the government has seemingly “spent” money on you or your cause. Because tax revenue will be lower, Springer is under the assumption that government tax revenues must hit a set level, and the government has a right to a fixed amount of the nation’s wealth.
The logic that each dollar you earn belongs first and foremost to the government rather than the taxpayer is grossly inaccurate.
The donors in this case are voluntarily contributing millions of dollars to help pay for the stadium of their Alma Mater or beloved college program. The city and state are not levying any form of new tax or using state revenue to fund the project, unlike several NFL teams. While previous renovation plans for Husky Stadium relied on lobbying the state legislature for funds - leftover from the Evergreen State’s hotel tax increase – the failure to levy a rental car tax on Washingtonians in 2011 meant the university would have to seek non-taxpayer funding.
The university ultimately decided to use private donations, revenue generated by the stadium, and the school’s internal lending program: a decision that other professional and collegiate sports organizations can learn from. Taxpayers are not responsible for any portion of the stadium’s total cost because private funds and charitable donations are voluntarily agreed upon and given, not forced upon residents of the Evergreen State.