Marco Rubio: Shame on Any American Who Would Tax an Olympian's Medal
Around the State
Rubio, with Illinois Republican Aaron Schock in the House, has introduced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, to exempt U.S. Olympic medal winners from paying taxes on their medals.
"Some 127 Americans won a total of 256 medals in London," he said Monday in reiterating his rationale for the bill. "These athletes deserve to be celebrated when they return home. What they don't deserve is the thing we give them that dampens their Olympic experience: a tax bill."
At present, the U.S. Olympic Committee awards "honorariums" to Olympic athletes who win medals. They are awarded $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.
"Small reward for years of hard work and the honor they bring to the nation," says Rubio. "But what happens? They are taxed on this money by the IRS."
Rubio points out that the tax code is "riddled with provisions that punish success."
"Why," he asks, "should athletes who are the very best at what they do, volunteering their time to represent our nation in the Olympics, worry about an extra tax bill when they get home?"
Rubio's bill has heavy bipartisan support in Washington.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Barack Obama would sign the Rubio-Schock bill if it reached his desk.
"The president believes that we should support efforts, like I think the bill you're referencing, to ensure that we are doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic Games," Carney said.
Some conservatives have slammed the proposed Olympic Tax Elimination Act.
Said John Clarke Walker, retired banker and Mitt Romney Campaign donor, "Really? You would give a tax break to LeBron James?"
Other nations -- though certainly not all of them -- reward their Olympic winners well. An Italian gold medal winner would receive more than $182,000 for a gold medal, and a Russian gold is worth roughly $135,000 in U.S. dollars.
If Rubio's bill is enacted into law, the gross income of Olympic athletes “shall not include the value of any prize or award won by the taxpayer in athletic competition in the Olympic Games.” This would apply to prizes and awards received after December 31, 2011.
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