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.