American athletes still face taxation on Olympic medal rewards
The 554-member Team USA has descended upon Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to compete in the Olympic Games. As a reward for winning Gold, Silver, or Bronze, U.S. athletes receive a monetary reward. But the IRS still wants its share.
The U.S. Olympic Committee recognizes its medalists with $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. But the IRS considers these amounts to be regular income, subject to taxation.
A gold medalist from Team USA could end up facing a tax bill of $9,900 per gold medal, $5,940 per silver medal, and $3,960 per bronze medal.
To be clear, these are the maximum possible tax amounts, and vary widely based on an individual’s tax circumstances and available deductions. Still, the athletes must reckon their medal winnings with the IRS code, a headache they can do without.
Maximum Prize Tax
Americans for Tax Reform brought the issue to the public’s attention during the 2012 Olympics. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) took the lead and immediately introduced The Olympic Tax Elimination Act. The bill called for IRS code to be changed so that the gross income of U.S. medal winners “shall not include the value of any prize or award won by the taxpayer in athletic competition in the Olympic Games.” 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney also called for an end to the tax.
In March 2016, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) introduced a bill (S. 2650) to stop the IRS from taxing Team USA medalists. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent on July 12.
In the House, Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) introduced a similar bill called the TEAM Act (H.R. 2628).
Americans who wish to express their support for the House bill can do so through the petition here or sign below: