The always insightful Americans For Tax Reform have an article up today breaking down the IRS’s plans for taxing our Olympic athletes should they receive a medal. Now I don’t know how much people know about Olympic athletes, but the majority of them make virtually nothing for the thousands of hours they put in training for their event. There is some money out there from various committees or nonprofits that support the individual sports, but the International Olympic Committee doesn’t pay athletes anything, despite being a cash cow, and there is only money paid for competing in the Olympics if you win.
Those in small sports almost always are deeply in the red following their passion. And that’s just fine – I’m not saying that the Olympic Committee should pay these people based on effort rather than results. If an athlete wants to compete in the Olympics, that is their choice and the onus of success is on their shoulders. The taxpayer shouldn’t have to pay for it. And the good news is that the taxpayer doesn’t pay for it. The USOC is fully funded by the revenue it collects from licensing agreements, broadcast rights, etc. from the International Olympic Committee. And that is what makes the IRS coming after athletes so damn insulting. It’s not as if one could even argue that they are repatriating funds paid for the training as some sort of return on investment to the taxpayer.
The IRS wants to collect a large percentage of the prize money awarded by the USOC for medal winners based on the US’s horrible tax policy on wages earned overseas. The US is one of the few nations in the world to tax foreign earnings, a move that has driven businesses away from our shores even more than our insanely high corporate tax rate. And now this terrible policy is taking money out of the thin and worn pockets of Olympic athletes who are representing our nation in the games.