WH: Don't tax Olympians on medals

The White House said Thursday that President Obama still believes American Olympians shouldn’t have to pay income taxes on the medals they win.

“The president believes we should support efforts to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic Games,” White House spokesman Bobby Whithorne told Yahoo News. “We still support this effort.” 

ADVERTISEMENT
During the 2012 presidential campaign, the White House said those who medaled in the summer games should be exempt from taxes on their winnings.

“If it were to get to his desk, he would support it," White House press secretary Jay Carney said of proposed legislation.

But a bill by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) never moved in the Senate.

"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 in 2012. "Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn't have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home."

U.S. athletes are paid cash prizes when they place in Olympic events: $25,000 for a gold, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze.

How much athletes pay back to Uncle Sam will depends largely on what other income they report for the year. But according to an analysis by the anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform, gold-medal winners in the top tax bracket could see nearly $10,000 of their $25,000 winnings taken by the government. 

Even athletes in the lowest tax bracket could fork over as much as $2,500 on a gold medal prize, $1,500 on a silver and $1,000 for a bronze.

Three Republican lawmakers — Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and Pete Sessions (R-Texas) — proposed a bill similar to Rubio's before this year's games, but it has also failed to gain traction.