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Rubio proposes Olympic tax loophole

It's doubtful that, say, Michael Phelps needs a tax break, but Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced Wednesday he was introducing the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, which would exempt U.S. Olympic medal winners from paying taxes on their medals. 

His office notes that Olympians who win medals also receive honorariums: cash payments of $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. We're checking with the IRS to determine whether there's a special tax for Olympians, or whether it all gets taxed as income. And whether the winners of the Nobel Prize, for example, also face similar taxes.

Rubio's spokesman said that Americans for Tax Reform, headed by Grover Norquist, brought the idea to the senator's attention.

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

"We need a fundamental overhaul of our tax code, but we shouldn't wait any time we have a chance to aggressively fix ridiculous tax laws like this tax on Olympians’ medals and prize money," he said. "We can all agree that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to athletic excellence should not be punished when they achieve it."

In a play on the president's "you didn't build that" comment, Rubio tweeted this: "Olympic champs shouldn't have tax on medals. Unless@barackobama believes they didn't earn them, someone else did that."

Mitt Romney, however, had a pretty Obama-esque statement about Olympians not doing it on their own. Here's what Romney, who helped rescue the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, said in his opening remarks: "You Olympians know, however, that you didn’t get here solely on your own power. For most of you, loving parents, sisters or brothers encouraged your hopes. Coaches guided. Communities built venues and organized competitions. All Olympians stand on the shoulders of those who lifted them."

From Rubio's office: "The Olympic Tax Elimination Act, would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to eliminate the tax on Olympic medals and prize money won by United States athletes. If enacted into law, the gross income of Olympic athletes shall not include the value of any prize or award won by the taxpayer in athletic competition in the Olympic Games. This would apply to prizes and awards received after December 31, 2011."

Here's a link to the bill.


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And then he proceeds to act like his typical pompous ass self with the following remark:

marcorubio: Olympic champs shouldn't have tax on medals.Unless@barackobama believes they didn't earn them,someone else did that.

Marco you are not funny, just an impudent twit

Steve Beste

I'd like to make a friendly amendment to the Senator's bill. I'd also like to exempt money won by Nobel Prize winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and any winner of any of Donald Trump's Pageant or Reality Shows.

bob kunath

Its the morass of petty exceptions like this proposal that make our tax laws so unmanageable. They will have plenty of exemptions against these earnings anyway.
Get back to whacking the obamamonster, Marco


Well ... the reality is that taxes on income are evil, in principle and practice.

In practice, they are bad because they encourage vast cadres of accountants and tax lawyers to waste their intellectual capital on trying to minimize tax liabilities legally--making those hired minions millions in the process, for what is essentially unproductive work.

In principle, income taxes are evil because they make the government a partner in whatever one earns, when the government did nothing--I repeat nothing--to help earn the money. Creating a legitimate marketplace in which one earns income does not count as "working" to help anyone earn income.

If the government bureaucrats want to take credit for that, they should also take the blame for anyone who earns relatively little income! After all, that income... high or low... is earned in the same marketplace.

The only taxes that are worse than the evil income taxes are property taxes ... which allow the government to take your paid-for property, just because they can charge you for owning it.


Rubi for VP


How does the young man expect to pay for it? Are we going to increase some other tax or does he propose a specific expenditure reduction?


Isn't it true that the tax is levied only if an athlete made over $380,000 and had no expense deductions? Yes, some of the professional basketball players would have to pay but to how many others would Rubio's bill apply?


They earned their medals and a $25k bonus, just like the janitor earned his paycheck, the teacher earned hers, we all have to pay taxes on what we earn, why not them. They also get the glory, $$$$ in sponsorship deals etc. It's pretty self indulgent to be an olympic athlete. Why not tax exempt firefighters, policemen, you know people who actually DO GOOD selfless work. This is just another stupid 'hate taxes, hate the government' political tactic. When are people gonna realize the government is OUR voice and OUR power, and the GOP just wants to weaken it so their giant corporations can exploit our resources and workers and turn us into a 3rd world country.


Military personnel put their lives on the line and die for their country and they pay tax. Olympic participants should pay tax also, their lives are not at risk. However, I feel the medal, itself should not be taxed provided it is retained by its winner and is not transferred, sold or used for profit.

David Aronson

So he plans to reward success for a few athletes. How many are we really talking about? Maybe 100? What about the rewarding the "success" of teachers, policemen/women, fire fighters, our men and women in the armed forces. Why are ATHLETES more important than those other individuals who help us on a daily basis? Who made the athletes' success possible?

Aside from which MOST of the athletes won't pay any tax on the awards they receive because they will offset their awards with the expenses they incurred such as airfares, coaching fees, equipment, hotels etc. Let's keep in mind that, unlike Michael Phelps, MOST of them only win ONE medal not seven. And Michael Phelps certainly doesn't need his awards to be tax free considering he was able to donate the ENTIRE ONE MILLION DOLLAR bonus he received from Speedo for winning seven medals. I suppose the basketball players might need some help since they only earn millions of dollars in salaries from the NBA and even more in endorsements. Poor fellas.

Thankfully, people receiving unemployment checks will still be paying tax on their benefits which will help offset the lost revenue from this ill-conceived legislation.


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