The Olympic medal tax

USOC pays medalists $25k, $15k, and $10k for gold, silver, and bronze Olympic medals, and it’s taxable no doubt because these are fairly big checks.  IE, if you get such big check you assuredly get w2’d or 1099’d.

That’s a ‘talker’ out there at this moment of Olympic timeliness how ironic / unfair this might be…. Oh noes, these people have trained all their lives to do this, sacrificed, etc, they shouldn’t be punished for wining…..  Quite a few politicians are stepping out there to display righteous indignation.  Seems most are Republicans but there are some Democrats too, with Sen. Charles Schumer prominent among them.

There’s a state version of this too, spearheaded by GOPer Pat Garofalo.

I’m against.  The medal winners ought to pay like everyone else.  Some points:

  • It’s a tax expenditure, and there’s not a solid argument for this tax expenditure other than that Olympians are held in higher esteem than normal people who have income and are taxed on it. Just to say, it’s all sentiment, not logic.
  • Related…if you’re not being taxed, you’re being subsidized. And it’s doubtful (I assert confidently) that we need this subsidy to encourage Olympic activity.
  • The qualitative difference in effort and result between medalists and non-medalists is often not great. Say miniscule, actually.  So such that medalists deserve a tax exemption on some tens of thousands of income, it’s not like non-medalists don’t merely because they didn’t place or show.   There’s your fairness argument.  Such that we’re not going to exempt all Olympians, don’t bother exempting anyone.

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