(NBC News) - The National Football League is giving up its tax-exempt status, which Commissioner Roger Goodell called a "distraction."
In a letter to team owners, Goodell says the league office and its management council will file tax returns as taxable entities for the 2015 fiscal year.
Goodell says the NFL has been tax-exempt since 1942, though all 32 teams pay taxes on their income. Goodell says the change will not alter the function or operation of the league, since all the teams already pay taxes.
"As you know, the effects of the tax exempt status of the league office have been mischaracterized repeatedly in recent years," Goodell said in the letter to owners. "The fact is that the business of the NFL has never been tax exempt."
Some members of Congress have criticized the NFL, which generates billions in revenue, for being tax-exempt.
Team owners gave the league's finance committee and management council the authority to change the tax status at league meetings in March, Goodell said.
"As a result, the committees decided eliminate this distraction," Goodell wrote. Goodell forwarded the letter to the owners to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich. Ryan chairs the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and Levin is the ranking Democrat.