SBD/August 2, 2012/Olympics

Bill Proposed To Exempt U.S. Athletes From Paying Taxes On Olympic Medals

Gold medal winners receive $25,000 from USOC, but also must pay a $8,896 tax
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) yesterday introduced the Olympic Tax Elimination Act, which "exempts U.S. medal winners from paying taxes on 'any prize or award' won in any Olympic competition," according to Roberts & Argetsinger of the WASHINGTON POST. Rubio said, "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." The bill would be "retroactively effective Jan. 1, 2012." Bill sponsors are "trying to get a vote before Thursday's summer recess; if passed in both houses, it will go to President Obama" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 8/1). SPORTING NEWS' David Whitley wrote Rubio either "sensed a political opening" or he has been "overcome by the Olympic spirit." The Tax Reform Foundation "released a simple study on the tax implications of Olympic Success." The USOC awards athletes $25,000 for a Gold Medal, $15,000 for a Silver and $10,000 for a Bronze. At the top income rate of 35%, that "means a gold medalist will owe Uncle Sam $8,896." Each silver "means a $5,385 bill, and each bronze is $3,502" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 8/1).

SOME ATHLETES OK WITH RULE 40: The GUARDIAN's Anna Kessel noted several British athletes have "rejected an American track and field campaign to overturn the rule of the Olympic charter stating that athletes cannot promote their sponsors during the Games." British heptathlete Jessica Ennis, hurdler Dai Greene and long jumper Greg Rutherford "collectively refused to endorse the movement, stating that an athletes' Olympics ideal should remain protected from financial motivation." Ennis said, "People can get so wrapped up in the money side of things. ... It's not about that, and I think it would take away from how special it is to actually make the team and win a medal" (GUARDIAN, 8/1). Greene said, "I don't think any of us for one second thinks we deserve the right to be paid to be here. We've all worked our socks off because we want to be the Gold Medalist and to get the kit and be part of the team and something special. I think that's more than enough payment for us all to be honest" (REUTERS, 8/1). U.S. Silver Medal-winning cyclist Evie Stevens said, "For me, the Olympics is about the sport, it’s about the passion, it’s about representing your country and just the Olympic spirit. There are so many issues in the world, but in that Olympic Village all that’s put aside. ... That’s what I’m focusing on” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 8/2).

RULE A FORM OF BULLYING: Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle, who reps Michael Phelps and Aly Raisman, said of Rule 40, “It’s a form of bullying. It’s so expensive (for these athletes) to compete on the world stage. You need to pay for that. Most of the athletes are funded by either their own communities or sponsors. But Rule 40 makes it hard to get a company to invest in an athlete when they’re blacked out from capitalizing on them during potentially the most lucrative time.” He added that competing has “gotten prohibitively costly and it’s simply not fair to choke off the one money pipe that flows most freely during the crucial weeks of the Olympics.” Former U.S. sprinter Maurice Greene said of the IOC, “They’re pimps. We’re out there competing and they’re the ones who get to make the money” (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/1).
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