WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday backed legislation designed to spare triumphant Olympic athletes a nasty surprise — a tax on medals they bring home from the London Games.
President Barack Obama “supports that bill. If it were to get to his desk, he would support it,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
“The president believes that we should support efforts … 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.”
Senator Marco Rubio, a rising Republican star, has introduced legislation following a report by the conservative group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), which warned that athletes could be required to pay up to $9,000 in taxes to the Internal Revenue Service for each gold medal.
The fee does not tax the medal itself, but the award by the US Olympic Organizing Committee of $25,000 to gold medal winners, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.
Fact-checker group PolitiFact rated the ATR report as “mostly false,” arguing that most athletes are not huge earners like swimmer Michael Phelps and would not be subject to high tax rates.
Athletes can also deduct their training expenses, which often amount to several thousand dollars per year, from their income.
Last week, a senior adviser to Mitt Romney said the presumptive Republican nominee was also against taxing medal winners.
Romney headed the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and “he believes that there should be no taxation of the type that you’re describing,” advisor Eric Fehrnstrom told reporters.