Olympic Tax Break Bill Sprinting Toward Finish Line

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By Kaustuv Basu

Aug. 15 — A bill that would give a tax break to Olympic and Paralympic medal winners will likely be marked up by the House Ways and Means Committee in September.

Rep. Robert Dold (R-Ill.) announced Aug. 15 that he will introduce a bill to exempt medal-winning athletes from paying tax on the value of a medal or prize money received from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) is a co-sponsor.

A similar bill (S. 2650) sponsored by John Thune (R-S.D.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) cleared the Senate in July.

Momentum has been building for the measure. Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has thrown his weight behind the effort, saying in an Aug. 15 statement that he is “looking forward to working with congressional leaders Bob Dold and Blake Farenthold to move it through our Committee in September.”

The bill could be part of a package of smaller tax bills that the committee marks up in September.

The USOC awards $25,000 to each gold medal winner at the Olympics, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. Paralympic medal winners get $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.

Endorsement Income

The measure won't give a tax break to athletes on endorsement and sponsorship income, unlike a 2012 bill from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) that could have been interpreted to mean that endorsement bonuses won by Olympic medal winners wouldn't be taxed (151 DTR G-2, 8/5/16).

The addition of the Paralympics is another effort to broaden the appeal of the legislation.

If the bill becomes law, medalists in the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro would retroactively qualify for the tax break.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kaustuv Basu in Washington at kbasu@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ryan Tuck at rtuck@bna.com

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