2018 was a winning year for the Cincinnati Reds, not on the field, but in the court room. The Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Reds in the decision to no longer tax promotional items given out to fans who attend their games. Most MLB teams use giveaways such as bobbleheads and baseball cards to attract fans to games. These gifts are considered “free” with the purchase of a ticket – but how free is free?
The Tax Commissioner of Ohio argued that promotional items used to boost ticket sales should be subject to use tax paid by the major league team. According to Forbes, “under Ohio law, there is an exemption available to parties who resale an item to a consumer.” The Reds claimed the giveaways were considered a resale item as they were included in the ticket price and fans couldn’t get them without buying a ticket.
The Ohio Tax department struck out in court with a ruling of 5-2 in favor of the Cincinnati Reds.