The group, Americans for Tax Reform has released numbers that appear to show how United States Olympians have to pay an extra $9,000 if they win a gold medal. These numbers are being made into cute little pictures and distributed across social media, but they seem too extraordinary to be true. However, as someone who went to college directly after high school, and then volunteered for two years, income (and income tax) is something still a little new to me so I tried to get some explanation.
I posted on my own Facebook page as well as on an article on the Washington Post website, but no one could satisfactorily prove that the numbers weren’t blatantly bloated.
As I understand it, the 35% income tax bracket for a single person is reserved for individuals making over $379,000. If an American athlete gets a gold medal, he or she would get an honorarium putting him or her in the 15% income tax bracket, and after taxes he or she would still have over $21,000 give or take a couple hundred dollars that looks like what the ATR is valuing the materials of a gold medal on*.
Of course there are endorsement deals and whatever job an athlete is working at the rest of the year. However, to face the tax numbers the ATR is putting out, a gold medalist would probably be making enough to barely notice the chunk taken out of their honorarium.
I wanted to check the numbers before blindly accepting this and feeling outrage on behalf of about (170e^-6)% of our population. For the record, I got that number by finding the actual number of USA athletes (530) and dividing it by the current USA population (a little over 311.5 million). If I was the ATF though, I probably could have just randomly chosen … let’s say .001% and assumed I was right. The real number is less than half of one percent of our population and that works just fine for my point.
And my point is that skewing numbers tends to point out an argument that’s pretty weak to begin with and there are much better things to be incensed about than whether or not someone who has to be making over 300 grand a year is going to have to pay an extra 5 grand to the government or not. And to be constructive, I posit a substitution of concerns: let’s get truly outraged over the state of mathematics education in this country! I heard some people want to let students skip algebra. Let’s make a picture for this to share on Facebook!
What do you think of the tax on Olympic gold?
*AmericanThinker.com explains the basis of the taxes:
Besides the actual gold, silver, and bronze medals awarded for the top three Olympians in each event, prizes are also awarded. For the London Olympics, athletes receive $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze.
There is also a handy chart explaining that for a gold medal, the taxes paid will be $236 and the total federal tax is $8986 when combined with the prize money.
Photo: AP/David J Phillip