Update, Dec. 20:
Congress has approved the tax re-write that repeals a little-known tax deduction championed by LSU athletics and credited with helping build the university's nationally-recognized teams.
LSU season ticket holders are one step closer to losing an incentive to buy tickets and the university's athletic programs could potentially lose millions under a sweeping overhaul of the nation's tax laws that is rapidly approaching final passage in Washington.
The U.S. Senate is expected to sign off on the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" as early as Tuesday evening, following a near party-line vote in the House earlier in the day. Due to a procedural issue raised when it reached the Senate, the legislation will likely need one more vote in the House slated for Wednesday morning, before it's sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.
Tucked inside the bill is language that would eliminate a deduction for college sports fans who donate to their schools as part of priority systems tied to season ticket sales.
LSU officials say that potentially as mch as $50 million for the university's heralded athletic programs could be lost through the change.
"It could be disastrous — for not just us, but every athletic department in the country," LSU athletic director Joe Alleva recently told The Advocate.
Louisiana Reps. Steve Scalise, Garret Graves, Mike Johnson, Ralph Abraham and Clay Higgins, all Republicans, voted in favor of the legislation. Cedric Richmond, the lone Democrat in the Louisiana delegation, voted against it.
Supporters of the tax rewrite have defended it as giving taxpayers more disposable income that would help offset the loss of the deduction.
"Today Congress achieved something historic for American families by passing dramatic tax cuts and necessary simplification of the outdated tax code for the first time in 31 years," Scalise, the House Majority Whip and avid LSU fan, said in a statement shortly after the $1.5 trillion tax package's passage. "Our bill will deliver much-needed tax relief to American families, workers, and businesses who have been struggling under a sluggish economy, and who have been calling on Congress to take action on reforms that make our nation’s tax code work better for them in a fairer and more simplified way."
Currently, many fans are required to donate hundreds or thousands of dollars to the university for the ability to purchase tickets to LSU games. The process is similar at schools with major athletic programs across the country. But the donation comes with a benefit: If they submit itemized income tax filings, they can claim up to 80 percent of the "donation" as a deduction because it's considered a charitable contribution.
The little-known benefit has a history that links back to LSU's efforts to get it passed and it is widely credited with helping jump-start the college athletics fundraising efforts and the growth of women's non-revenue sports under Title IX.
The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated that eliminating the provision would generate $1.9 billion in federal revenue over 10 years.