Should Olympic medals be subject to tax?

Saw this on a friends Facebook page:

Go for the Gold! (Pay the IRS)

And here’s a another opinion on the issue

Basically, if you win an Olympic medal you get a monetary award: $25k for a gold, $15k for silver and $10k for bronze. That’s apparently taxable income in the United States. It seems some feel it shouldn’t be. I don’t have a fully formed opinion on this yet, but I’m leaning toward, “Fine, tax the medals, I don’t really care.” Olympic athletes do put in a lot of work and make sacrifices for their sport, but I’m not sure this is sufficient reason to get out of paying taxes on their winnings.

I put a lot of work and make sacrifices to do my job, but I still have to pay taxes on my remuneration. I don’t see why Olympians should be any different.

Plus I like the quote form Rubio in the second article. He complains about how complicated the tax code is, and then immediately suggests…adding another special case exemption to the tax code.

I have never heard of a payment accompanying a medal. Sounds false to me.

ETA: I was wrong.


The money comes from the USOC, not the Olympics itself.

(Which makes the Weekly Standard article misleading, since they say athletes from other countries don’t have to pay taxes on their prizes since their countries don’t asses tax on foreign income, but other athletes don’t get cash prizes from the US OC.

Its also misleading because it makes it sound like this is some special tax on Olympic prizes, but its just the usual tax on prizes in general.

Its also misleading because the numbers given assume the Olympians are in the top tax bracket. I don’t know what the average income of someone in the Olympics is, but I doubt your average discus thrower is pulling in 250k a year.

Do people really pay to read the Weekly Standard?)

Snopes marks it partly true, Politifacts marks it Mostly False.

It should be treated as income, because it is. They can deduct the business expenses just like any other. I assume there’s already some exception to cover the value of the medals.

^^ This.

You get an income. You pay taxes on that income. The government does not give a hoot about how you earned the income in general (illegal sources would be a problem).

Seems pretty normal and straightforward to me.

If the government wanted to give its athletes a break it can easily pass a law that exempts Olympic money earned from from being taxed.

It depends. Several countries zero-rate earnings made abroad. So that’s a disadvantage to the host country’s athletes.

Not sure what “zero rate” means but Americans think it is an Olympic rule that athletes be non-professional/amateurs (i.e. not their job, not paid).

That is an American rule and not sure how much a rule it is anymore (thinking basketball).

If other countries want to pay their athletes a gazillion dollars there is no rule against it.

If those countries want to tax their athlete’s earnings again that is up to them.

Yeah, I don’t really get this. Don’t Nobel Prize winners pay taxes on that as well? International sports stars?

It’s income - why shouldn’t it be treated the same as all other income earned abroad?

For those who think that Olympians should not be subject to the income tax for these winnings, do you believe that the Super Bowl champions should also be exempt? I see here that players tend to get a post-season bonus in the $150,000-$170,000 range, not to mention the ring.

And I reiterate the question about Nobel Prize winners being taxed – I seem to recall that some people were chagrined that Obama could donate all of his prize money to charity and not pay any taxes on it. Should Nobel Prize winnings be taxed or not?

Except I heard on the news this morning that they are taxed on the value of the medals. Maybe that was some airhead screwing up the facts though. I wonder if military medals and the like are taxed like that, or if it’s true. Either way, I think Olympic medal winners would usually have offsetting expenses, or in many cases now-a-days they’re already making plenty of money so they could afford it.

Wouldn’t be much, the gold is only worth $644 metal value. It’s almost all silver with 6 grams of gold plating.

Cheap bastards.

This. If Tiger Woods had won the Open I don’t think anyone would be demanding that his $1.5 million prize be tax-exempt.

It would get real expensive real fast if it was solid gold.

Olympic Medals

Just the 28 gold medals needed for mens track and field would be about $750,000 or more. Think of the cost and the security needed to cover all the medals for every event.

It’s a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the costs involved in the Olympics and the sponsorship and appearance deals some athletes make. Some of those athletes won’t ever make much money from their sport. Now the medal itself should be an honor no matter what it’s made from, so I’m not going to carry this point very far. I’d rather complain about humans winning medals in events where the horses are the athletes.

I can agree with that. There have been a few riders in their 70s in the past.

From this link, it seems Italy pays $182,000 for a gold medal, Russia pays $135,000, and Ukraine pays $100,000, while the US only pays $25,000. As a proud American, I say this CANNOT STAND!


I doubt the US women’s gymnastics team is going to be hurting for money anytime soon, no matter how much the Russkis pay their girls.