An Illinois congressman wants to keep the government away from U.S. Olympians’ prize money.
U.S. Rep. Bob Dold (R-Dist. 10) is sponsoring legislation that would exempt Olympians and Paralympians competing in Rio from paying federal taxes on their winnings. This includes the value of their medals. Dold said these athletes typically work low-paying side jobs to allow time for training.
"We want to say, 'Thank you,' as opposed to, 'In case you didn't know, here's a tax bill for several thousand dollars.'" Dold said.
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Dold said the value of the taxes to the federal coffers is nominal and would prefer that the government use other methods to secure revenue. "Yes, we need to bring revenue into our federal government, but I would argue that we need to do it through growth as opposed to taxing Olympians," Dold said.
The United States Appreciation for Olympians and Paralympians Act would not apply to foreign nationals living in the U.S. who compete for other countries.
The United States Olympic Committee gives individual Olympians $25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver and $10,000 for a bronze.
Illinoisans who come home with a medal will still be subject to state tax. In 2014, State Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Dist. 29) sponsored legislation that would have exempted Illinoisans who bring home a medal and prize money from state taxes. The bill never received a floor vote. There are more than 50 Olympians competing in Rio with ties to Illinois.
A companion bill passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year.