Do Olympians Pay Taxes On Medals? For U.S. Competitors At Rio, Winnings Are Income, Just Like Any Paycheck

They're some of the best athletes in the world... They dedicate their lives to their sport and make endless sacrifices... But not even an Olympic athlete can escape the tax man. Those who take the podium and bring home a shiny prize have to deal with one drawback: U.S. Olympians pay taxes on medals. That seems like a major buzzkill to me, but apparently, it's the norm.

The reason for the tax is a clear one: The prizes that Olympians walk away with are viewed as income. This means that, according to CNN Money, they're taxed (both state and federal) on medals and prize money. For the curious, the U.S. Olympic Committee awards gold medalists $25,000; silver medalists win $15,000; and bronze medalists win $10,000. Every one of them gets taxed.

And the medals are no different — U.S. athletes are taxed on the values of these, as well. It's not as straightforward as you might think, though. Somewhat surprisingly, the gold and silver medals are both made mostly of silver. Bronze medals, meanwhile, are made mainly of copper.

(For what it's worth, I feel like I've been living in a web of lies.)

But this is where is actually comes in handy to walk away with the bronze, as opposed to the silver or gold.


The gold medal is worth around $600, while the silver is worth around $300. But bronze? It's hardly worth anything at all, so those don't get taxed. Mwahah!

The good news for gold and silver medalists is that there is proposed legislation in the United States fighting to make their prize money and medals tax exempt. If it passes, Rio's Olympians wouldn't have to pay up. And it would likely be a huge relief to many competitors, some of whom already struggle financially to make ends meet while practicing their sport. The taxes the athletes are required to pay are no joke: In the highest tax bracket, gold medal winners could pay as much as $9,900; silver could reach $5,940; and bronze could owe $3,960.

The argument against giving the tax break is that it's unfair to the rest of American citizens, who will continue to be taxed for their income. Supporters of the legislation, however, say that the life and career of an Olympian should undoubtedly be treated differently. Regardless, for the time being, it looks like the law is leaning toward favoring the Olympians.