How Does the IRS Define “Athletics” Services From a QSBS Perspective?

Athletic Industry

One of the many areas of 26 U.S.C.A. § 1202 that is creating the questions from corporations looking to determine if their company qualifies for the tax exemption falls under Section 1202(e)(3)(A); which broadly states how the IRS defines excluded trades or businesses for the qualification of Section 1202. Before analyzing the qualifications Section 1202(e)(3)(A) defines Qualified trades or businesses in the negative:

“[E]xcluding any trade or business involving the performance of services in the fields of health, law, engineering, architecture, accounting, actuarial science, performing arts, consulting, athletics, financial services, brokerage services, or any trade or business where the principal asset of such trade or business is the reputation or skill of 1 or more of its employees.”

26 U.S.C.A § 1202(E)(3)(A)

Regulations That Clarify the Broad Language of Section 1202(e)(3)(A)

While guidance in Section 1202 is limited, other regulations help clarify how the IRS likely views these trades or businesses in a QSBS/Section 1202 perspective. These regulations are:

“Athletic” Services Defined Under the Code of Federal Regulations

Under § 1.199A-5: Specified service trades or businesses and the trade or business of performing services as an employee, the term definition of performance of services in the “Athletics” field as:  

“[T]he performance of services by individuals who participate in athletic competition such as athletes, coaches, and team managers in sports such as baseball, basketball, football, soccer, hockey, martial arts, boxing, bowling, tennis, golf, skiing, snowboarding, track and field, billiards, and racing.”

Reg. §1.199A-5(b)(2)(viii)

However, there are exceptions that this provision has left out of discussion; such as, the performance of services that do not require the expertise or unique skills to perform in Athletic Competition . Some examples include: 

  • Maintaining and operating equipment or facilities for use in athletic events, and 
  • Broadcasting or otherwise disseminating video or audio of athletic events to the public. See Reg. §1.199A-5(b)(2)(viii).

Furthermore, Reg. §1.199A-5(b)(3)(vii) (Ex. 7), states that the income from a partnership’s ownership of some quality of a professional sports will be excluded from every partners’ Qualified  Business Income. This is the case whether the partner actively participates in the business or is an active member of the business (i.e athlete, coach, advisor).

This article does not constitute legal or tax advice. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor with respect to your particular circumstance.