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By Kerri Anne Renzulli
August 12, 2016
Katie Ledecky, Maya Dirado, Leah Smith and Allison Schimdt of the United States pose with their gold medals from the Women's 4 x 20m Freestyle Relay at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Katie Ledecky, Maya Dirado, Leah Smith and Allison Schimdt of the United States pose with their gold medals from the Women's 4 x 20m Freestyle Relay at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Uncle Sam still comes for you, even if you’re winning Olympic medals in the country’s name.

Olympic medals and the bonuses—$25,000 for a gold medal, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze— that the U.S. Olympic Committee awards athletes for landing one of the top spots all count as taxable income to the IRS.

Victory bonuses and medals are seen by the IRS as being like any other prize winnings, such as lottery, casino or game show winnings and, thus, are taxable.

The tax bill might not be as big as you’d imagine thanks to the medals’ actual monetary value, the basis on which they are taxed, being so low. According to Money’s own estimates the scrap value of a gold medal is about $501, depending on the portion of actual gold used to make the medal and current price of gold. Silver medals have even less value, about $300, and bronze medals, being a mix of copper and zinc, have little value.

Athletes can offset their potential tax hit with the hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses they’ve likely racked up for training and traveling, if they treat their sport as a profession. Last Olympics, the New York Times reported that Missy Franklin’s parents spent $100,000 a year on her swimming expenses.

There are many who dislike that Olympic athletes must pay taxes for a victory.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has referred to this issue as “the victory tax” and has called on the House to pass legislation exempting Olympic winners from paying income taxes on their medal earnings. Sen. Marco Rubio also proposed a bill in 2012 to exempt Olympians from the tax. Even President Obama has said he’s in favor of an exemption.

Read More: Olympic Athletes’ Crowdfunding Campaigns Have Raised Nearly $1 Million

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The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.

Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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