For years, Congress has been considering giving Olympic athletes tax breaks on their victory bonuses. Olympians receive $25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. This year, the US won its 1,000th gold medal, a landmark that led to an almost unanimous vote to grant the athletes these tax breaks. However, the victory bonuses are comparable to any bonus that a person would receive as a result of doing well at their own jobs. This may lead to many wondering: why are they getting these tax breaks when others are not? Considering all of their endorsements and the fame they get from being in the Olympics, many of them are financially much better off than the average person. Why is Congress giving them tax breaks that they are not giving to people who, arguably, need them much more?
There was one Democrat from Connecticut who was in opposition to these tax breaks. Jim Himes cast the only vote that opposed a bill that would grant tax breaks to these athletic stars. The vote was 415 to 1. Himes claims that he was just as “caught up in the thrill of our Olympic victories” as anyone else. However, he feels that at this time, the money is needed elsewhere, and athletes should not be getting perks like this.
He went on to say that many of his fellow members of the legislature supported the bill because it was “a feel-good thing” and all about patriotism and nationalism. However, he points out that other extraordinary American people, such as Special Operations soldiers and Nobel Prize winners, do not get these tax breaks, so to grant them to Olympians would be arbitrary.
While Olympians can be great role models, it remains debatable whether they are actually entitled to these tax breaks when no one else is. After all, other people do noble work as well, and they still have to pay taxes. Not to mention that this benefit for Olympians puts a strain on the system and makes financial matters worse for everyone else, including amateur athletes who do not make as much money as the bigger names. People have the right to question why Congress would grant this benefit to Olympians and not to others who work just as hard for their money. Himes may be onto something here.