Gabby Douglas' medal comes with a generous check.
American Olympic medal winners won't just get hardware and national pride as a result of their success, they'll also receive a cash honorarium, including $25,000 for every gold medal. For some conservatives, this leads to a pressing question: is that taxable income?
Grover Norquist, The Weekly Standard, and Drudge all worried aloud this week about athletes having to pay a portion of their cash reward in taxes. One day later, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) leapt into action, unveiling the "Olympic Tax Elimination Act" to protect our Olympic medal winners from those rascals at the IRS.
Rubio said in a press release, "Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn't have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home."
Conor Friedersdorf is unimpressed by the effort to create another special tax exemption.
The fact is that prize money from athletic victories is income, and there is no good reason for the government to treat that income differently than the income of all the non-Olympic athletes who earn analogous types of income. Why should Olympic athletes be exempted from paying taxes on their prize money, but not professional golfers, or poker players, or winners of literary prizes, or folks who win the lottery? [...]
[T]reating Olympic winnings as if they are singular and morally superior to other income, and even other prize income, cannot be justified, and least of all by someone who advocates tax code simplicity and objects to government picking winners and losers. Simplifying the American tax code is tremendously important. Rubio's proposal tries to trade on that importance, but it is no more than a cheap stunt, and the man proposing it seems not to realize that the impulse behind his bill is the very one he needs to defeat if he's serious about tax-code reform.
Ed Kilgore also questions Rubio's motivations as the senator tries to "hijack a nationally unifying sports event" in order to turn it into anti-tax message in an election year.
That said, I wouldn't be surprised if Rubio's bill gets quite a bit of attention -- and picks up quite a few co-sponsors.