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IRS Taxes on Gold Medal Winners: $9,000. True or False?

Written by Gary North on August 2, 2012

If an American wins a gold medal at the Olympics, will the IRS collect about $9,000? True or false?

True — maybe. It depends on his post-endorsement income.

And why not? The U.S. Olympic Committee awards every gold medal winner in every sport, no matter how obscure, a cash payment of $25,000.

You didn’t know that, did you?

Italy pays over $180,000 to its gold medal winners.

Russia pays $135,000.

Ghana pays $20,000, which in Ghana is big bucks.

The gold medals are mostly made of silver, so the tax isn’t that high on the medals. It’s on the payola — sorry, the rewards for winning.

Here is a breakdown on who gets how much. (Taken from Americans for Tax Reform.)

If you watched the great 1980 movie, Chariots of Fire, on the 1924 Olympics, you will see the irony. The Old Boy Network that wanted to keep money out of consideration lost that battle in the twenty-first century.

No future Jim Thorpe will have to return his medals. He will cash in on the endorsements, and come back to try again at the next Olympics.

I don’t know if Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian. I do know that the IRS has greatly appreciated his efforts.

When an American stands on the victors’ platform, tears streaming down his face, there’s a reason: the IRS.

Frankly, I’d be hysterical.

Continue Reading on www.snopes.com

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17 thoughts on “IRS Taxes on Gold Medal Winners: $9,000. True or False?

  1. RIDICULOUS. Go after Geithner the tax fraud instead.

  2. These funds are supplied privately, so at least it comes from non-governmental sources. But, I think that Olympians that win should NOT have their winnings taxed, and I'd go so far as to think the Feds should make it so states with income taxes don't tax it either.

    A lot of these great athletes have devoted their lives, many times forgoing or cutting back on regular work to train and be ready to represent our country.

    Let them keep their money, and start fixing the tax laws so we can keep ours, too.

  3. Typical "Bear-Baiting". The IRS doesn't tax anyone. YOUR congress wrote every Federal Tax Law that has ever been written, including the law that requires the IRS to collect the tax due under those laws. Read the Snopes article. To pay the maximum tax, the gold medal winner would have to have taxable income of nearly $390,000.00. I don't think that too many folks would have difficulty paying 2% of their total income on the $25,000.00 winnings, nor do I think a lot of folks would be very sympathetic to complaints of unfairness. Remember, with that kind of income, they qualify to be included in the hated 1% who the current administration wants to tax even more. You don't like the tax laws, then demand your elected representative go on record and try to get them changed. If he doesn't, then fire him!

  4. Seminole Katz says:

    Let me tell you how it will be
    There's one for you, nineteen for me
    'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

    Should five percent appear too small
    Be thankful I don't take it all
    'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

    If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
    If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat,
    If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat,
    If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

    Don't ask me what I want it for
    If you don't want to pay some more
    'Cause I'm the taxman, yeah, I'm the taxman

    Etc. – Etc. – Etc. "The Beatles"

  5. KumquatKlubber says:

    So……..this person works for 100s….1,000s of hours, they and/or family spend untold thousands in support for such as….auto fuel and support of that vehicle, airfare, taxis, rental cars, hotels, entry fees to events, special foods, special health care, special fitness/training equipment, special clothing, hired trainers, possibly special personal equipment for their event, and on and on. And taxes are paid on all that!!!

    The gub-mint/IRS does not do one thing to help them. Doesn't spend a moment, a penny to assist. The USA benefits from them and they are charged taxes on the hopeful result. Horses**t.
    I then think they should be able claim those taxes as expenses to gain any income they make for the result of their efforts.

  6. Just out of curiosity, if the USAC awards each gold medal winner $25K does that mean Phelps gets $475,000?

  7. BSDetector says:

    Oh yea? Did you not hear Obummer basically say that no one does anything on their own but owes their success on what the Gruberment has given them? Seriously, I'm with you. In past years many countries like the USSR, the athletes were fully trained, supported and paid by the government to be athletes. That was their job and profession even though they were suppose to be amateurs and not Pros.

  8. El Kabong says:

    When an American stands on the victors’ platform, tears streaming down his face, there’s a reason: the IRS.

    Could be. Maybe when someone is not eligible to get an individual gold medal, it could be a blessing in disguise. It was mentioned that Jordyn Wieber of the women's gymnastics team (Fab Five) was not eligible for a gold medal as an individual. But her team won a gold medal this week, and Jordyn was outstanding! Like Jordyn, I live in mid Michigan, and although I don't know her personally, I may know some of her distant relatives (second or third cousins). God Bless Jordyn and the Fab Five! Is the tax burden less on the individual if the gold medal was won as a team? Seems like it would be.

  9. If the IRS is going to tax the medals then all expenses insured in the athletes training, from the time they started their quest should be tax deductible, that would included housing,food, all fees for training for all concern, transportation, parents time and travel . Not just the successful ones but all aspiring contenders. Go ahead government tax us, but make the ground rules even.

  10. […] google_color_bg = ""; google_color_text = ""; google_color_url = ""; google_ui_features = "rc:0"; teapartyeconomist.com / By Gary North / August 2, 2012If an American wins a gold medal at the Olympics, will the IRS […]

  11. William 1 says:

    Then by God let the IRS pay for their training-this is a crock of the federal Reserve stealing monies from hard earned efforts and those idiot sit on their arses and do nothing!

  12. Deepizzaguy says:

    If you don't win a gold medal in the Olympics you are called a choker by the idiots in the media.

  13. SilverHairedSaint says:

    They must have had visions of Obama's reign.

  14. SilverHairedSaint says:

    An excellent song.

  15. Interesting. Noone has ever really heard of the Deaflympics yet they have over 7,000 athletics. Most countries pay their athletes except the USA. They get no monies for winning the Gold Medal. Wow. They win the Gold Medal for our country and are so
    Proud to do it. They pay their own way to get to the country that they play in. In 2005 the US National Deaf Women’s Soccer Team won the Gold in Australia; in 2009 the Women won the Gold again in Tiawan; and then in 2012 the Women yet again won the Gold Medal at the Wirld Cup in Turkey. No monies did they receive – yet they had to pay $5,000 per player to go. Wow. They do It for their country because they are proud to Represent our country – yet $25,000 would be nice.

  16. Nice try but get real, how many athletes do you know whom are in the 35% tax bracket? That would require $340,000 or more annual income. Those athletes would be epople like Serena Williams for example. They can handle the extra tax.

    Most athletes are part time dish washers earning under $10K. When you add a $25K gold medal prize you get a gross annual income of $35. On Schedule SE that will whittle down to $17.5K, or even possibly to ZERO if there had been a lot of driving to and from practices, and that will be subject to Social Security tax of about 15%. Moving that number onto the 1040 Form, deducting dependents, and taking deductions, the most the athlete will be paying will be 20% and the taxable amount will be about $1K, so tax will be $200.

  17. "Those athletes would be epople like Serena Williams for example. They can handle the extra tax." Yeah, those rich people can handle it. They should pay extra. It's ok to tax them more because they are successful and make a lot of money. Steal from them,but not from me (unless I become rich some day, and then it will be wrong to tax the rich). Yes it's fair to steal from rich folks. People with money are what's wrong with this country. After all, if I want a job, I go to a poor person to hire me. Wait, poor people don't hire people; rich people do! OK, OK, stop with the logic; rich people are bad, so it's ok to tax them more…yeah, that's what I meant to say.

    Scott, if the tax isn't that bad, then why don't YOU pay it for them?