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State Assembly Approves Legislation to Exempt Olympic Medals from Taxes

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell

Legislation to exempt gold, silver, and bronze Olympic medalists from paying taxes on those achievements passed out of the Assembly on a bipartisan vote and is now heading to the Senate.  Assembly Bill 2323 by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) would exempt California Olympians and Paralympians from state taxes on awards by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) for their success in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The exemption does not include sponsorship deals and other endorsement income.

“Most countries compensate their Olympic athletes, but athletes representing the United States are unpaid volunteers from beginning to end, unless they earn a bronze, silver, or gold medal,” stated Assemblyman Jeff Gorell.  “Upon being welcomed home these athletes who wear the Olympic uniform of the United States are then subject to federal and state taxes on their achievements.  This is wrong.”

“Most of our athletes make significant personal and economic sacrifices to represent America in the Olympic Games,” Gorell added.

In addition to the physical medal earned by Olympic and Paralympic athletes finishing first, second, or third in their respective events, the USOC, which receives no regular government funding, provides honoraria to medaling athletes. Athletes are generally awarded $25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. This amount, in addition to the value of the medal itself, is fully taxable. In 2012, some bronze medalists were levied a tax of $3,500, silver medalists a tax of $5,385, and gold medalists a tax of $8,986.

Most American Olympians and Paralympians are amateur athletes with modest incomes, earning nothing for Olympic and Paralympic competition. For instance, only half of the country’s track and field athletes ranked in the top ten in the nation make more than $15,000 a year from the sport. This bill will provide tax relief to California’s medalists, many of whom have made enormous sacrifices in pursuit of Olympic success.

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