Olympic Medals & Taxes

Imagine you gave up everything to be a U.S. Olympian: you sacrificed a normal career, probably gave up a lot of social and family time, took odd-jobs to scrape by to train. You finally win a medal at the Olympics- HURRAY! Only you find that you get a hefty 35% tax bill at the end of any prize winnings AND have to pay taxes based on the value of your medal’s materials (you may even be in a low income tax bracket of, say, 10-15%). Ouch. Is that fair?

While this is totally my personal opinion (and I’m totally open for debate!), actually being selected to compete in the Olympics to represent your country is a very high honor and you shouldn’t be penalized for your success. The sacrifices (and monetary sacrifices) given up to be the best in your country are huge and most of the athletes aren’t making anything more, if not dramatically less, than Joe Schmo. Yes, there are definitely plenty of exceptions. Instead of tax all athletes, whether they make $20k a year or $200k a year, having them add the prize money to their income for the year and having them pay taxes based on their total income? That or I’m all for the total tax break (although maybe a little jealous  as an amateur-competing-and-prize-winning athlete myself). So many athletes pay so much money and sacrifice so much to get to where they are that many don’t ever break even.

What do you think? Tax ’em? Don’t tax ’em? Some middle ground?