House Passes Bill Exempting Olympic Medalists From Tax Man [UPDATE]

Slow clap for this incredible feat of tax reform.

WASHINGTON ― The House of Representatives has finally managed to pass tax reform, though it falls a bit short of the definition of comprehensive.

Lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday targeting some of our neediest Americans: Olympic medalists.

The measure would exempt medal winners from paying taxes on the money they receive from the U.S. Olympic Committee when they earn a medal. The vote was 415-1, with Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) casting the lone “no” vote.

“I voted against the bill because it’s bad policy,” Himes told The Huffington Post. “It makes an unpaid-for carve out, is most likely to benefit the richest athletes and further complicates an already complex tax code.”

U.S. Olympians are paid $25,000 when they win a gold medal, $15,000 for a silver medal and $10,000 for a bronze. U.S. Paralympic medalists, who would also be covered under the tax exemption, are paid $5,000, $3,500 and $2,500 for each medal, respectively.

An amendment adopted in the Ways and Means Committee earlier this month would prevent the tax exemption from applying to athletes who make more than $1 million a year. The bill would also be retroactive to cover medals won during the Rio Olympics.

A cost analysis from the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the bill would cost the government $3 million in lost tax revenue over the next 10 years. 

A similar version of the bill passed the Senate in July, but because of changes in the legislation, the Senate will have to pass the House’s version of the legislation ― or vice-versa ― before it goes to President Barack Obama.

UPDATE: President Obama signed the bill into law on Friday, Oct. 7.