Olympic athletes will get state tax breaks under my bill

Congratulations on winning an Olympic medal! Now… here is a bill for the taxes you owe to the state of Pennsylvania!

That’s what some Olympic athletes from Pennsylvania returned home to in the past. But if I won’t be that way from now on because of a law I authored that removes the tax burden on successful Olympic athletes.

I am grateful to Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly who voted in favor of my legislation (H.B. 538), which was incorporated into H.B. 262 and ultimately signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. My legislation exempts prize winnings and medals received from the Olympic Games or Paralympic Games from Pennsylvania income taxes.

The legislation is now known as Act 13.

It is important to me, and many other lawmakers across the state, that we do not tax our athletes who basically fund their own journey to the Olympics. It is not fair to expect our athletes to pay for their own trip to the host country to compete and then also tax them on their success on top of that. They work hard and deserve this state tax break.

The new law will serve as testimony to future Olympic champions just how much we admire them and appreciate their success and will thank them for their commitment.

Their performances truly inspire and unite our country and Commonwealth, yet the United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not provide government funding to its athletes for training, requiring most competitors to rely on small stipends, local support or other monies.

These individuals sacrifice so much and work with limited resources while trying to win an Olympic medal. Athletes work for years without any compensation, and most athletes don’t have endorsements. 

It’s too late for Clark Summit’s Adam Rippon, who won a team figure skating medal in 2018 at the Winter Olympics, and Luzerne County’s Stephanie Jallen, who won bronze in skiing at the 2014 Paralympic Games, but this new law will benefit future Olympic champions and show them just how much we admire them and their success.

Before 2018, gold medalists received $25,000, silver medalists $15,000 and bronze medalists were awarded $10,000. This amounts to a tax liability of $1,500, $900 and $600 the year the athlete wins the medal. The International Olympic Committee does not give prize money.

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

Five cities have been chosen by the International Olympic Committee for upcoming games: Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Olympics, Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Los Angeles for the 2028 Summer Olympics.