Simone Biles and Michael Phelps set to pay for Olympic success

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Team USA are dominating the Olympic Games, according to the medals table at least. They have 93 medals, almost double that of second-placed Great Britain (50) and are almost certain to finish top on the pile.

That, in a large part, is down to the success of several high-performing stars. Michael Phelps has won five gold medals in this Games alone as well as a silver while his fellow swimmer Katie Ledecky has had to settle for just the four golds.

Away from the pool, Simone Biles, 19, has emerged as one of the stars of Rio for her dazzling performances in gymnastics. She has four golds to her name and, if it wasn't for the slightest of slips on the balance beam, it would have been five. As it turned out, she won a bronze in that event, taking her total medal accumulation to five.

But while all Americans can be proud of what their country has achieved at the Olympic Games, the athletes are going to get hit with an unwelcome tax bill as soon as they land on home soil. Indeed, unlike most other countries, the US do not exempt their successful athletes from winnings accumulated during competition in what is widely known as a "victory tax".

For Biles, it means an estimated bill of $43,560 (£33,479) while some analysts have suggested Phelps could owe as much as $55,000 (£41,806). Here we explain why the USA are charging their own athletes for winning.

Victory tax

First, you must assume all medal winners are in the top bracket of tax in the US, which is set at 39.6% of earnings. That is not the case for some athletes, who compete in lesser known sports such as fencing in kayaking, but for a man like Phelps, the trigger point is easily met.

The International Olympic Committee awards gold medallists $25,000, silver medallists get $15,000, and bronze winners earn $10,000. That means Biles, with four golds and one bronze has already accumulated $110,000 in winnings alone.


But the bill is further increased by the fact that the US government also tax Olympians for the value of the medals they are awarded.

Gold medals are mostly made of silver with gold plating but they are still worth $600 based on today's trading value. Silver medals are worth $300 while bronze medals, which are mostly copper, have a minimal value of $4.

The last taxed Olympians?

There have been calls for this tax to be scrapped to encourage more athletes to train harder, especially as some are still bound by amateur status.

A bill to stop taxation on Olympians and Paralympians passed a vote in the Senate.

"After a successful and hard-fought victory, it's just not right for the US to welcome these athletes home with a tax on that victory," Senator Chuck Schumer said. 

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Team USA Olympics
Simone Biles
Team GB
Commonwealth Games
Usain Bolt
Mo Farah

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