Gold medalists return to the United States as folk heroes, netting recognition and praise from all corners of the nation. Though there’s one particular group that these athletes probably don’t enjoy such attention from: the IRS.
Olympic athletes have to pay a small fortune in taxes for the medals they take home, though not due to the actual value of the medals themselves. The tax is attached to the prize money that accompanies a gold, silver, or even a bronze win, reports Yahoo!News.
It breaks down like this: The United States Olympic Committee rewards our Olympic medalists with cash prizes. For gold, you get $25,000. Silver is worth $15,000 and finally, bronze is worth $10,000. Conservative news magazine The Weekly Standard crunched the numbers on the price paid by Olympic winners, estimating that gold medalists like Michael Phelps pay about $8,986 for each gold win, silver winners pay roughly $5,385 and bronze winners owe the IRS $3,500 in taxes.
This is slightly outrageous, as Olympic athletes are representing our country and “fighting” for the U.S. in different ways from our armed forces (who are tax exempt when deployed overseas). Should our Olympic athletes receive the same tax breaks? Sure, they have their endorsements, and no one is arguing that they come home to the poor house. But what about Missy Franklin who hasn’t cashed in any endorsements? The ATR (Americans for Tax Reform) estimate her post-Olympic taxes to be in excess of $30,000. Fair?
Though the winnings are indeed taxable, and according to Alex Knight, a tax partner at Atlanta’s Habif, Arogeti & Wynne, “no different from winning Wheel of Fortune or the lottery,” all the fuss may be for naught, as it is hard to imagine the IRS actually chasing down Olympic athletes for unpaid taxes. “I have to imagine that would be a public relations nightmare,” Knight told Reuters.