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Taxes on Olympic Medals? Who Knew?

We didn’t know it either, but it’s true.  American athletes who win medals at the Olympics also get cash awards to go with the medal.  The IRS says the medals and the cash are taxable income.


via Flickr/401(K) 2012

The United States Olympic Committee gives cash awards to its medalists as a show of appreciation for the work they’ve done to become the best athletes on the planet in their chosen disciplines.  They get $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.

Americans for Tax Reform tells us in addition to a small tax on the cash value of the medals themselves, bronze medalists will owe $3500 in income taxes for the cash “honorarium”.  Silver medalists will owe $5,385, and gold medalists will owe $8,986.

We don’t know how many other countries, if any, give cash awards to their Olympic medalists. We do know that most other Olympians pay no taxes on the cash value of their medals, because America is one of only a handful of countries that taxes “worldwide” prize income earned overseas.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has introduced a bill that would eliminate the tax on Olympic medals and the cash awards. Rubio says the tax amounts to just one more way the government tries to punish those who succeed.


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