Medal-winning U.S. Olympians could soon have a tax break to go with the fame  and Wheaties boxes they earn from their athletic feats.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has proposed a bill that would keep the IRS from  taking a cut of the cash prizes that Olympic athletes get along with their  golds, silvers and bronzes.

Under IRS rules, Olympic winners have to report the cash – $25,000 for gold  medals, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze – as taxable income.

Rubio’s Olympic Tax Elimination Act would make such income exempt from  taxes.

“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 Republican lawmaker said in a statement.

“Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to  worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home,” said Rubio, who is  said to be on the short list of running mates for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt  Romney.

Americans for Tax Reform found that gold medals come with a tax burden of  $8,886, while silver and bronze medalists pay between $5,385 and $3,500 in  taxes.

“Not only do our Olympic athletes have to pay taxes on their medals and  prizes — chances are their competitors on the field will face no such taxation  when they get home,” the tax-reform group said on its website.

The group claimed that the U.S. is “virtually the only developed nation that  taxes ‘worldwide’ income earned overseas by its taxpayers.”

As such, the group said, “our Olympic athletes face a competitive  disadvantage that has nothing to do with sports.”

Few sports fans even know that Olympic winners get prizes beyond pride and a  few ounces of metal. But the jury was out on Rubio’s bill.

“It makes sense,” said Heather Benno, 32, of Manhattan. “No Olympic athlete  should have to pay taxes on their prize money while companies like G.E. get tax  breaks.”

George Tselos, 72, of Manhattan said athletes shouldn’t get special  treatment.

“If the same taxes apply for everyone else, they should pay too,” Tselos  said. “They’re already getting an international reputation for their athletic  accolades.”

Alexander Ranieri, 25, added that if he has to pay taxes on income, so should  athletes.

“The tax is OK by me because these athletes already have sponsorships  regardless of their winnings,” Ranieri said. “They are just like every other  working American, so the same rules should apply.”

Source: NY Daily News


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