Lawmaker wants a tax break for Olympic medalists

A Missouri lawmaker wants to eliminate the state tax liability for cash prizes awarded with Olympic medals. (MGNOnline)

A St. Louis-area lawmaker wants to eliminate state tax liabilities for cash prizes awarded to Olympic athletes.

According to state researchers, the U.S. Olympic Committee awards cash prizes to any athlete who wins an Olympic medal.

Before 2018, gold medalists received $25,000, silver medalists $15,000 and bronze medalists were awarded $10,000. This translates to a tax liability of $1,500, $900 and $600, respectively, the year the athlete wins the medal.

Legislation by Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester, would eliminate the tax liability. She said athletes work for years without any compensation, and most athletes don't have endorsements. She noticed that other states in the country, including California, have similar legislation in effect.

Evans said that she will add Paralympics and Special Olympics as a floor amendment. She said she originally intended the bill to apply to these athletes as well and wants to add language to clarify this.

"I think it's a nice way to say 'congrats, we welcome you'," she said.

State analysts said 30 Missourians have won Olympic medals since 1968, including Mizzou wrestler J'Den Cox, who took home a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Evans' bill passed a House committee 5-3 but has not yet come up for a floor vote.

The United States Olympic Committee removed the federal tax on Olympic winnings for the 2018 Winter Olympics and the games in 2020.

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