Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Schumer Decries 'Victory Tax,' Urges House To Pass Senate Bill Exempting Olympic Medals From Tax

Olympic RingsPress Release, Schumer Urges House of Representatives to Immediately Pass Bipartisan Legislation That Will Block IRS From Taxing Olympic Medals; Senator Says Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Should Not Have To Pay a Victory Tax:

During a visit to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer joined with Olympic athletes and launched a major push to urge the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation that would prevent the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) from taxing Olympic and Paralympic athletes on medals or other prizes awarded to them in future Olympic games.

“Our Olympian and Paralympic athletes should be worried about breaking world records, not breaking the bank, when they earn a medal,” said ‎Schumer. “Most countries subsidize their athletes; the very least we can do is make sure our athletes don’t get hit with a tax bill for winning. After a successful and hard fought victory, it’s just not right for the U.S. to welcome these athletes home with a tax on that victory. We worked hard to pass a bill that would exempt athletes from these tax penalties in the Senate, and now I’m hopeful that this bill will earn strong bipartisan support in the House and quickly become law.”

According to a 2014 report by NBC News, the U.S. Olympic Committee awards cash prizes to medal winners when they place in Olympic events: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. However, because the money is considered “earned income abroad,” the monetary value of the Olympic medal is therefore subject to federal taxation. ‎

Schumer said it is unfair to tax the winnings of these medalists who work hard year-round to represent their country on the world stage and achieve victory. Schumer argued that the U.S. tax system should recognize the sacrifices made by our Olympic and Paralympic athletes.  Most countries subsidize their athletes, and Schumer said the very least the U.S. can do is make sure that our athletes don’t get hit with a victory penalty.

Schumer therefore introduced and successfully helped pass a bipartisan bill in the Senate, alongside Senator John Thune (R-SD), called the United States Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act. This bill would exempt U.S. Olympic and Paralympic medalists from being forced to pay taxes on their medals. In July, the Senate passed this legislation. However, the House of Representatives has failed to do so. Schumer therefore urged his colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House to pass this bill.

Schumer explained that, if enacted, U.S. Olympians and Paralympians would be allowed to exempt the value of medals from their taxable income, as well as prizes awarded through the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), which pays monetary awards to U.S. medal-winning athletes at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Schumer said the bill would have a negligible effect on federal revenue and would not affect taxes on any potential endorsement or sponsorship income earned by Olympic athletes.

Schumer was joined by a number of Olympic medalists and Olympic hopefuls, including two-time medal winning Alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht, Bobsled Silver medalist Justin Olson and Luge Silver medalist Gordy Sheer. Schumer was also joined by Ted Blazer, President and CEO of the Olympic Redevelopment Authority; James McKenna, CEO of the Regional Office for Sustainable Tourism; Garry Douglas, President of the Plattsburgh- North Country Chamber of Commerce; as well as local elected officials.

“This tax places a hardship on our athletes and unfairly taxes them for representing our country and reaching the pinnacle of their sport,” said USA Luge president/CEO Jim Leahy. “We thank Senator Schumer and Senator Thune for their efforts to remove the tax and hope that the House of Representatives will pass this bi-partisan bill as well.”

Congressional News, Tax | Permalink


Rejoice! Stupid tax policy ideas is not restricted to Republicans.

Posted by: mike | Aug 3, 2016 12:14:09 PM

I'm fine with the exemption, but don't kid yourself that the coal miner is less deserving of a break and does less for the US. This is largely jingoism.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 3, 2016 12:46:43 PM

Why? Tax-payers already pay millions to subsidize their training. Some will earn millions from product endorsements. Why shouldn't the pay taxes on earnings abroad? The rest of us do. Why should we have to face the "hardship" of taxes on income earned abroad but not they?

This is sickening, but all too typical of how our political class behaves. They pander to themselves and a chosen few, but care not about the hardships they impose on the rest of us.

Posted by: Michael W. Perry | Aug 3, 2016 12:54:11 PM

This is interesting, Schumer's tax cut will favor the rich elite athletes who (i) are more likely to win (because they are elite) and (ii) pay taxes at a high rate. Most non-elite athletes fit within a group that won't win medals or aren't paying income taxes because of low income.

When the Bush cuts or current proposals to reduce marginal rates accomplish the same thing (disproportionately helping the top quintiles, while also helping the middle quintiles) it's an injustice and unfair.

Posted by: Yo Gabba Gabba | Aug 4, 2016 11:06:44 AM

Leave to a grandstanding fool like Schumer to do this.

A Rhodes Scholar of similar age has to pay tax on the living part of his stipend. Why in the world should this be different for an athlete? . Remember, the track and field events are now fully professionalized.

Posted by: jim harper | Aug 4, 2016 11:48:03 AM