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House panel to consider tax exemption for Olympic medal winners

By LINDSEY McPHERSON • Aug 15, 2016 at 6:00 PM

WASHINGTON — The House Ways and Means Committee will mark up a bill in September that would provide a tax exemption for Olympic athletes who won medals or other prizes at the games in Brazil this summer.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Robert J. Dold, R-Ill., and Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, is the House companion measure to a bill the Senate passed earlier this year.

Olympic medals and accompanying cash prizes are subject to taxes under current law, but Congress typically passes legislation providing for an exemption when there are Summer and Winter Games.

The 2016 summer games in Rio, currently underway, will be complete by the time Congress returns in September to take up the legislation. The bill would also apply the tax exemption for athletes competing in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games Sept. 7-18.

"Our Olympic and Paralympic athletes make numerous personal sacrifices while training to represent the United States on the global stage," Dold said in a statement. "But when they return home with a medal for Team USA, the IRS forces the athletes to pay a penalty for their success."

Farenthold added that Olympic athletes often earn very little money during years of training for the Games and that taxing them for their success is unfair. "This tax illustrates how complicated and burdensome the tax code is. While we need to make it more fair and less burdensome for all, I think this is a good way to start," he said in a statement.

Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said his panel will take up the bill in September. "It seems like a small thing, but when America's Olympians and Paralympians bring home the gold, our nation should congratulate them — not send the IRS to claim a share of their medal," he said in a statement.

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