Hickenlooper eliminates state tax on Olympic medals and bonuses

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill into law Monday so Olympic and Paralympic athletes do not have to pay state taxes on their medals – commonly known as the victory tax.

Up until now, athletes have been taxed up to 39 percent of their winnings, which could be up to over $9,000 for a gold medal, and that’s assuming the athlete only wins one.

The athletes we spoke to said not only will it make way for more monetary funds, but it will hopefully bring more Olympic athletes to train here in Colorado.

Before today, Olympic medalists have had to pay a tax on their medals and bonuses for winning events in the Olympic games.

Governor Hickenlooper made it official – winning no longer comes at a cost. But he did so with the help and kickstart effort of State Representative Clarice Navarro and Senator Kevin Priola.

“I thought, you know, this is something we can fix, and we can do better than that. I was just very pleased to run this legislation,” Navarro said.

Olympic athletes were being taxed on their winnings, much like winning lottery money.

“The determination and will of these individuals to overcome all kinds of challenges is remarkable, so we occasionally get the chance to make small gestures like we did on this bill,” Hickenlooper said during the ceremony.

Paralympic athletes from the swimming and skeleton events both said that the passing of this bill is monumental for the state of Colorado.

“So this is one of the most important bills that could have been passed, as a paralympic athlete, contrary to popular belief, we don’t make a whole lot of money, so any amount of money that we can keep is huge,” Tharon Drake, silver medalist Paralymic swimmer said.

“We, unlike other countries, are all self-funded… where this allows us to put those funds that we have, even though they’re limited to a better use,” Stephen Garbett, USA Skeleton Athlete said.

Before the passing of this bill, the bonuses for winning Olympic medals are:
$25,000 for a gold… Being taxed at $9,900
$15,000 for silver… Being taxed at $5,940
And $10,000 for bronze… Being taxed at $3,960

Former President Obama signed a bill into law in October of last year, federally declaring that any athletes that make under $1 million do not have to pay this victory tax.

Now in Colorado, that stands true for all athletes of any pay grade.

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