Sorry, Olympic Medalists Don't Deserve Tax Break

Last thing our tax code needs is yet another loophole: Conor Friedersdorf

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 2, 2012 1:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Marco Rubio claims he wants to simplify the tax code—so why in the world is he calling for Olympians not to be taxed on their winnings? Such a plan "is a perfect example of why the tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess," writes Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic. Once we decide a certain category of earnings should be treated differently, we've created yet another confusing loophole. And just because this particular loophole resonates with us, there is "no good reason" for Olympic prizes to be treated differently than prizes won by other athletes or even lottery winners.

Friedersdorf points out that, as a writer, he could work on a book for four years and then see "a large income spike" in just one year. He backs a plan that would "smooth that income as if it were earned over the four years I was doing the work, rather than paying a higher rate in the year when I received the unusually large windfall"—if it could be implemented without too much complication. Such a reform would help Olympians, athletes, writers, and others whose "income … is the product of a multi-year effort," Friedersdorf writes. "But treating Olympic winnings as if they are singular and morally superior to other income, and even other prize income, cannot be justified." Click for Friedersdorf's full column.

McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas, and Jordyn Wieber bite their gold medals at the women's gymnastics team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, July 31, 2012, in London.
McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Alexandra Raisman, Gabrielle Douglas, and Jordyn Wieber bite their gold medals at the women's gymnastics team final at the 2012 Summer Olympics, July 31, 2012, in London.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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