Congress Poised to Give America's Olympic Medalists a Big Tax Break

A bill has been presented to Congress that would exempt Olympians from paying taxes on their winnings

Photo: Daniel A. Anderson via ZUMA Wire

Michael Phelps, Simone Biles and more of the U.S.A.’s medaling Olympians paid their dues to achieve greatness in Rio – and they may not owe anything more than that.

Congress has agreed to consider a new measure that would exempt Olympians from paying taxes on their Rio winnings, according to Politico.

In addition to their medals, athletes are also awarded prize money from the U.S. Olympic Committee: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. These awards are taxable by the IRS – just like a lottery jackpot or game show winnings. The fees have been dubbed the “victory tax.”

Medals are also taxable, according to CNN.

The new measure – which was introduced by Republican Reps. Bob Dold of Illinois and Blake Farenthold of Texas – is awaiting approval from the House Ways and Means Committee. A version of the bill already passed in the Senate, said Politico.

“The men and women who represent the United States exemplify the best of the American spirit,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday, according to Politico. “Removing an unnecessary tax levied on their success is a no-brainer.”

Road to Rio: How Did Team USA Train for the Olympics?

The tax affects higher-earning athletes – like Phelps – more than others. Those without lucrative endorsement deals can also write off training and travel expenses.

Notably, the U.S. is one of only a few countries that does not provide government funding to their Olympians – which makes it difficult for lower-earning athletes to train and live on small stipends from the Olympic committee.

An Olympic tax bill happens after nearly every Olympics, according to Politico, as many politicians have spoken out against the fees competitors are subjected to for simply being the best in their sport. Neither 2012 nor 2014’s bills passed the Senate, however.

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