LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer, on the eve of the Summer Olympics, is calling on the House to follow his chamber’s lead and make the cash prizes won by U.S. medalists tax-exempt in future games.
The New York Democrat, visiting the Winter Olympics training facility in Lake Placid on Tuesday, said the Internal Revenue Service shouldn’t impose a victory tax on athletes who work hard training year-round. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent in July before the current recess began. The House is scheduled to return Sept. 6, after the summer games in Brazil are over. The U.S. Olympic Committee pays $25,000 to gold medal winners, $15,000 for silver medalists and $10,000 for bronze. Athletes have to report the income on their federal tax returns.
The bill would also exempt prizes for Paralympic athletes. The exemption would not apply to commercial endorsements.
“Our Olympian and Paralympic athletes should be worried about breaking world records, not breaking the bank, when they earn a medal,” Schumer said.
While some athletes who represent the U.S. in the Olympics, like tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, also make millions of dollars as paid professionals, many other Olympians participate in more obscure and less lucrative sports. Schumer was accompanied by Andrew Weibrecht, a Lake Placid native and World Cup alpine skier who won bronze and silver medals, bobsled silver medalist Justin Olson and luge silver medalist Gordy Sheer. USA Luge chief executive Jim Leahy said the federal tax places a hardship on athletes and unfairly taxes them for representing the U.S. and reaching the top of their sports.