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How Much Does Uncle Sam Tax Victorious Olympic Athletes?


"Our tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess."

Visitors pose in front of the Olympic rings at the 2014 Winter Olympics Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. The Olympics begin Feb. 7th. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) AP Photo/David J. Phillip

TheBlaze has noted in the past the raw value of Olympic medals.

But do you have any idea what it costs for Americans to compete and win in the games?

If you guess “a lot,” you’d be correct.

U.S. athletes receive a cash bonus from the U.S. Olympic Committee every time they win a medal, meaning the Internal Revenue Service isn’t far behind with a bill.

Here’s the breakdown of cash bonuses for U.S. athletes, according to SavingAdvice.com:

  • Gold: $25,000
  • Silver: $15,000
  • Bronze: $10,000

These prizes are all considered taxable income by the federal government and there are additional taxes depending on income levels and state laws.

And the price of glory can be pretty hefty, according to the site.

For example, an athlete in the top, 39.6-percent bracket would pay about $9,900 for a gold medal. Meanwhile, an athlete in the 28-percent bracket would pay $7,000 for the same prize.

Unsurprisingly, Washington’s long-standing tradition of going after victorious American athletes has its fair share of detractors.

For example, Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) proposed last week the Tax Exemptions for American Medalists Act.

“Gross income shall not include the value of any medal awarded in, or any prize money received from the United States Olympic Committee on account of, competition in the Olympic Games,” the bill reads.

If the bill is enacted, the Washington Post reported , it would go into effect this year.

Germany's Carina Vogt jumps over the Olympic Rings on her second run during the women's normal hill ski jumping final at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) AP Photo/Charlie Riedel Associated Press 

"'If enacted’ is the tricky part, though,” the Post report reads. “Bills like this one have been introduced from time to time, and President Obama has indicated that he would support and sign an exemption into law.”

“But, so far, the bills have not come up for a vote it isn’t likely that the Winter Games will be a bigger impetus for Congress than the Summer Games in 2012, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) proposed an exemption,” it added.

At the time, Rubio complained that the tax code was unfairly targeting those representing the United States abroad.

“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,” Rubio said. “Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home.”


Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter.

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