IRS issues guidance providing safe harbor for trades of player and staff-member contracts and draft picks


Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IR-2019-70, April 11, 2019

WASHINGTON –The Internal Revenue Service issued guidance today that provides a safe harbor allowing professional sports teams to treat certain player and staff-member contracts and draft picks as having a zero value for determining gain or loss to be recognized on the trade of a player or staff-member contract or a draft pick.

Historically it has been difficult for professional sports teams to assign a monetary value to contracts or draft picks due to the fluctuating nature of the performance of players and staff members, and market conditions.  This guidance allows professional sports teams to avoid having to value their player contracts, staff-member contracts, and draft picks to determine the amount of any gain or loss to be recognized.  A team using the safe harbor recognizes gain only if cash is received in the trade.

The IRS announced the guidance in Revenue Procedure 2019-18PDF, posted today on