The Cost Of A Gold Medal: USA`s Olympians Taxed By IRS
The 2012 Olympics have been extremely successful for the USA so far . 16 year old Gabby Douglas won the gold for the USA in the women`s gymnastics all-around and Gabby, along with her other USA team members known as the “Fierce Five,” won the United States their first Olympic title since 1996 just two days prior. Serena Williams also won the gold medal in the women`s tennis singles event on the same courts she won the Wimbledon title just a month earlier.
With medals around their necks and prize money in their pockets, Americans like Serena and Gabby will be coming home with plenty of souvenirs from London but will they have to fork over a hefty portion of their winnings to the US government?
According to the Americans for Tax Reform, USA`s gold medalists will have to pay nearly $9,000 for every gold medal won.
Medal winning Olympians are taxed based on the income represented by the gold, silver and bronze medals and even though the price for the metals are less than $1,000 for each prize , the athletes are taxed at the top tax bracket—35%.
The cash prize amount for a gold medal is $25,000, cash prize winnings for silver are $15,000 and for bronze it is a $10,000 honorarium. The cash prizes combined with the medals leave gold medalists owing $8, 750, silver medalists owing $5,385 and bronze owing $3, 502.
Marco Rubio, Florida Republican Senator, presented a bill known as the Olympic Elimination Tax Act to the U.S. Senate which would exempt USA`s medal winning Olympians from paying taxes on their prizes saying, “We can all agree that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to athletic excellence should not be punished when they achieve it.”
President Barack Obama also supports Rubio`s legislation according to press secretary Jay Carney but others, even some Olympic athletes are against it although they do appreciate Rubio`s proposal.
When asked to comment on the proposed bill, 2008 gold medal winner Todd Rogers said, “For me, I make enough that I would say I should get taxed.”
The USA is one of the few countries that tax Olympic medals and I am curious to know about other countries.
Although Spain`s Rafael Nadal was supposed to compete in the London games, he withdrew due to a shoulder injury. If he had competed and won a gold medal for Spain would he have to pay?
Of course it`s understandable that he and other Spanish athletes are subject to being taxed on the money they get from their regular tournament winnings and their sponsors (if you notice Rafa always carries Babolat tennis bags and uses Babolat racquets) but when playing for their home country should they be forced to pay tax on the prize money and the medals they are awarded? After all, is $25,000 for a gold medal even enough when you consider they have dedicated their bodies, minds, diets and a huge amount of time in order to perform to the very best of their abilities?
Freelance writer Courtney Sloan is a tennis enthusiast interested in all things athletic. In addition to being a writer she is a college student majoring in mass media.