President Obama opposes a current law that requires Olympic athletes to pay taxes on medals and cash awards won as the represent the United States, his spokesman said today.
“Well, the president believes that we should support efforts like I think the bill you’re referencing to ensure that we are doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes, who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic games,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney replied to a reporter during today’s briefing. “So, he supports that bill; if it were to get to his desk, he would support it.”
Carney’s statement puts Obama in alliance Republican lawmakers and an old foe on tax policy, Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. ATR estimated that Olympic gold medalists returning to the United States could owe almost 9,000 in taxes on their awards, which prompted two Republican lawmakers to introduce legislation exempting the awards from taxation.
“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 last week as he proposed the bill in the Senate. “Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home.”
Rep. Aaron Schock, R-ll., introduced similar legislation in the House. “Apparently, the sacrifices they make for their success doesn’t stop once they receive their Olympic medals,” Schock said in his statement on the bill. “The federal government has to penalize our athletes by taxing them for the medals they have rightfully earned. This is a classic example of how complicated and costly our tax code has become and why tax reform is badly needed.”
Along with the medals, Olympic winners receive cash awards of $25,000 (gold), $15,000 (silver), $10,000 (bronze) for each medal.