You consistently train nearly all your life to become the best athlete in the world. You spend everyday mastering how to move, toning your muscles in just the right way, and your diet is more strict than a Catholic school dress code. All this to go to the Olympics, where you compete with the best the world has to offer. They’re good, but not good enough. You thrash them in the games and take home the gold.
To the world, you’re a celebrated hero whose name will go down in the history books, but to the US Government, you’re in debt. The taxman cometh, and he wants his share of your winnings.
This Olympics season, the IRS is imposing a 40% “victory” tax on winners who medal in their sport.
According to fee.org:
American Olympians earn $25,000 for gold medals, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze, paid for by the U.S. Olympic Committee. But according to the non-profit advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, “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.”
Though “these are the maximum possible tax amounts, and vary widely based on an individual’s tax circumstances and available deductions,” even the potential amounts of money owed are staggering.
That means Michael Phelps, who won 5 golds and 1 silver could owe Uncle Sam $55,000 just for being a winner.
It should be noted that it’s not likely that all those who medal will face the full amount. Tax deductions vary from one athlete’s financial situation to the next. Regardless, the idea that these young adults should be punished with fees for being winners is beyond ridiculous.
Especially since the US government does absolutely nothing to help the athletes compete in the Olympics.
That’s right. They get there on their own, compete, win, and the US then turns around and demands the government gets paid for all the athlete’s hard work. It’s like being pulled over and given a ticket for being a stellar example of how to drive on the highway.
In 2012, Marco Rubio attempted to kill this practice with a bill that was ultimately defeated.
“We can all agree that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to athletic excellence should not be punished when they achieve it,” he said of the practice.
Today, a bipartisan effort by Senators John Thune (R) and Chuck Schumer (D) is trying once again to alleviate the government’s demands on our winners. The bill has already passed the Senate, and awaits Congressional approval.