As regular readers of this blog may be are aware, the city of San Diego has been undergoing some fiscal distress of late, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that they are wondering just how Comic-con can be a tax-free charity perhaps with an eye to glomming a new revenue stream.

But the 38th annual San Diego Comic-Con International, which opens tonight, is registered with the federal government as a public charity, placed in the same general category as many schools, hospitals and churches.

As such, the pop-culture extravaganza, which generates about $5 million in revenue each year, is exempt from income taxes and pays less in city traffic-control fees.

That loss of money to government coffers means the public is, in effect, subsidizing an event that has become a massive promotional vehicle for new movies, TV shows, comics and toys.

The article points out that Fleet Week and the Tournament of Roses are also non profits. Con spokesperson David Glanzer explains that there is an educational element:

“We strive to inform the public that comics are as viable an art form as other art you may find in a museum, or in a gallery, or a bookstore or even a film festival,” said David Glanzer, director of marketing and public relations for the convention.

“In addition, as the medium has branched out to film, television and interactive multimedia, we offer a venue where the public can meet the actual creators in those fields and interact with them to further their understanding of this industry that has a historic and ongoing contribution to arts and culture.”

Yeah! Culture! Hands off Comic-Con you people!


  1. They’ve got a point, to be honest. Everything I’ve read about the San Diego Comicon makes it sounds like a trade show first and foremost, and a vehicle for promoting awareness of comics as a very, very distant second. Of course, if they’re eligible for tax-free status then they’d be fools not to take up the option, but that does seem like a remarkably generous law.

  2. So, how do I itemize it on my 1040A? And $5 Million?! Nice. I hope they’re doing outreach to schools and libraries. Or is it just the conventions?

  3. The article states that the convention generates $32 Million in revenue. It also advertises the city, which is overshadowed by SF and LA.
    An interesting tidbit: the Con is so big, that the Padres, neighbors to the convention center, have no home games this week.

  4. The con is so big now, that hopefully, they at least try to help some of the local charities and whatnot in the area they claim for their time spent there, but then again, greed probably prevails.

    I’d have to agree with the above posters’ statements as well.

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