Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed a bill that would keep the IRS from taking a cut of the cash prizes that Olympic athletes get along with their golds, silvers and bronzes.
Under IRS rules, Olympic winners have to report the cash — $25,000 for gold medals, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze — as taxable income.
Rubio’s Olympic Tax Elimination Act would make such income exempt from taxes.
“Our tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success, and the tax imposed on Olympic medal winners is a classic example of this madness,” the Republican lawmaker said in a statement.
“Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home,” said Rubio, who is said to be on the short list of running mates for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Americans for Tax Reform found that gold medals come with a tax burden of $8,886, while silver and bronze medalists pay between $5,385 and $3,500 in taxes.
“Not only do our Olympic athletes have to pay taxes on their medals and prizes – chances are their competitors on the field will face no such taxation when they get home,” the tax-reform group said on its website.
The group claimed that the U.S. is “virtually the only developed nation that taxes ‘worldwide’ income earned overseas by its taxpayers.”
As such, the group said, “our Olympic athletes face a competitive disadvantage that has nothing to do with sports.”
Few sports fans even know that Olympic winners get prizes beyond pride and a few ounces of metal. But the jury was out on Rubio’s bill.
“It makes sense,” said Heather Benno, 32, of Manhattan. “No Olympic athlete should have to pay taxes on their prize money while companies like G.E. get tax breaks.”
George Tselos, 72, of Manhattan said athletes shouldn’t get special treatment.
“If the same taxes apply for everyone else, they should pay too,” Tselos said. “They’re already getting an international reputation for their athletic accolades.”
Alexander Ranieri, 25, added that if he has to pay taxes on income, so should athletes.
“The tax is OK by me because these athletes already have sponsorships regardless of their winnings,” Ranieri said. “They are just like every other working American, so the same rules should apply.”
Source: NY Daily News