Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio introduced legislation Wednesday to exempt Olympic medal winners from federal taxes they would incur when they earn spots on medal podiums in London.
In addition to their medals, winning athletes also receive honorariums: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. (RELATED: Olympic medalists to get a visit from the taxman)
Rubio’s Olympic Tax Elimination Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to strike taxes on American athletes’ Olympic medals and prize money. The law would retroactively apply to Olympic winnings after December 31, 2011.
“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 a statement posted online by Politico. “Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home.”
Americans for Tax Reform calculated that the Internal Revenue Service would take around $8,986 in taxes from gold medalists, $5,385 in added taxes from second-place finishers and up to $3,500 from bronze medalists.
Update: California Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack and North Carolina Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield introduced legislation similar to Rubio’s in the House Wednesday.
“Taxing the Olympic medals of U.S. athletes is like Scrooge putting a tax on Christmas presents,” Bono Mack and Butterfield said in a joint statement. “It’s just wrong. Our athletes work and sacrifice for years to reach the pinnacle of their sports and to proudly represent the United States of America in the Olympic games. Only the U.S. tax code can turn the ‘thrill of victory’ into the agony of victory. We strongly urge our colleagues in Congress to join us in this effort to salute our U.S. Olympians. When they’re standing on the podium, they should be savoring the moment — not calculating their taxes. This is just one small way to say thank you to our Olympic medalists for their efforts and achievements.”