As American Olympians were racking up the medals at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, media outlets all over the internet started discussing the hefty tax bill that these athletes would receive when they returned to the United States. The US Olympic Committee awards medalists with money, which is of course taxable income. Besides that, though, the medals themselves are taxable as well, with CNNMoney estimating that a gold medal could be seen as worth about $564 in value on a US tax form. Legislation is being considered that would make the prize money and the physical medals exempt from tax, but we’re doubtful as to if it will pass anytime soon, considering we still don’t have a plan for the Zika virus.
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Over in Russia, Olympians are treated much differently. While Team USA is not funded at all by the government, the Russian team receives copious amounts of money from its home country. The team is so closely tied to its government, in fact, that the state was blamed for sponsoring illegal doping for its athletes, which got them thrown out of several Rio 2016 events and the entire Paralympic Games. One of the perks to participating on a government-sponsored team is that there are major prizes for bringing home medals, especially gold ones. According to USA Today, President Vladimir Putin was so pleased with his team’s performance that all medalists were given brand-new BMW vehicles by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Olympians were responsible for the taxes on these new vehicles, and a few of them, like gymnast Seda Tutkhalyan, are not yet able to drive the vehicles because they aren’t old enough for a license yet. Local governments also showered the Olympians with prizes, with one of them even getting a valuable race horse.
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Of course, one of the Olympians has already been accused of reckless driving in his new prize. Be honest, though: if someone gave you a new BMW for a job well done, how could you resist?