Indiana Olympic medal winners like Nick Goepper from Lawrenceburg would receive a break from state income taxes, thanks to a new proposal approved Friday by the Indiana House of Representatives.
Authored by State Rep. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson), the bill was approved by a vote of 69-20.
Austin's proposal, inserted in Senate Bill 161, would grant any Hoosier an exemption from paying any state adjusted gross income taxes on the cash award they receive from winning a gold, silver or bronze medal at a Winter or Summer Olympics. Olympic medal winners receive $25 thousand for gold, $15 thousand for silver and $10 thousand for bronze.
If the proposal becomes law, it would have an immediate impact on Goepper, who won a bronze medal in the freeski slopestyle event at the recently-completed Sochi Winter Olympics.
"Recently, I read information from U.S. Congressman Luke Messer (R-Indiana) that brought to my attention the incredibly unfair tax burdens that Olympic medal winners face at both the state and federal levels," Austin told House members during debate on the proposal.
"These men and women spend many years and make many sacrifices in order to pursue their dreams, and I don't think we need to penalize them for succeeding at a level that brings worldwide recognition for themselves, their state and their country," she added.
The U.S. Olympic Committee awards winning athletes with $25 thousand for winning a gold medal, $15 thousand for silver, and $10 thousand for bronze. Under current law, U.S. Olympic athletes are taxed at 35 percent on the prize money and value of the medal. A similar proposal is being considered in Illinois and in the U.S. Congress.
The proposal drew support from both sides of the aisle in the House, including State Rep. Eric Turner (R-Cicero), the sponsor of Senate Bill 161.
The measure is now eligible for final consideration by the full House. Once approval is secured, the legislation will return to the Indiana Senate for consideration of the changes made in the House.
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