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Olympic Medal Tax Exemption Has Bipartisan Support

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. John Thune is leading a revived effort for an Olympic medal tax exemption.  

“Most countries not only compensate their Olympic and Paralympic athletes, but also welcome them home with celebrations. In the United States, athletes are welcomed home from winning on a world stage with a tax bill,” the Republican said in a statement. “Winning an Olympic medal should be a source of great pride for our athletes and the federal government should celebrate their achievement rather than tax their success.”  

The South Dakota senator is the top Republican on the Commerce Committee. One of his predecessors in that role, the late Ted Stevens of Alaska, was the author of the federal law that governs America’s Olympic efforts. Stevens is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame .  

Thune introduced the tax-exemption legislation Wednesday with co-sponsors including both of New York’s Democratic senators, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles E. Schumer. The bill would exclude the value of Olympic medals from calculating individual taxable income.  

Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has introduced similar legislation in the House. The conservative anti-tax group Americans for Tax Reform has been pushing the effort as well.  

Thune’s GOP backers include Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio led a similar campaign during the 2012 summer Olympics.  

The White House said at the time that President Barack Obama would have signed legislation to exempt the medals from taxable income, but no such measure ever reached his desk.  

“The president believes that we should support efforts like I think the bill you’re referencing, to ensure that we’re doing everything we can to honor and support our Olympic athletes who have volunteered to represent our nation at the Olympic games,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said in 2012. “So he supports that that bill. If it were to get to his desk, he would support it.”

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