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Article updated: 2/19/2014 7:29 PM

Proposal would give Olympians state tax break on winnings

Julie Morrison

Julie Morrison

 
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By Zachary White

A suburban Democrat wants to make it easier for Jason Brown to skate through the upcoming tax season following his Olympic bronze win.

State Sen. Julie Morrison of Deerfield is sponsoring legislation that would exempt Olympians from paying Illinois taxes on their awards.

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Olympians who win gold medals are awarded $25,000, athletes who win silver earn $15,000 and athletes who earn bronze receive $10,000.

These amounts are currently taxed by both federal and state governments. Morrison's legislation would exempt Olympians from paying taxes on their awards and from paying taxes on the value of the medals they receive.

Two Illinois Olympians have medaled since the Sochi games began. Jason Brown of Highland Park earned a bronze medal for mixed team figure skating and Aja Evans of Chicago won a bronze medal for women's bobsledding. Megan Bozek of Buffalo Grove and Kendall Coyne of Palos Heights will be bringing home either gold or silver, as the women's ice hockey team is scheduled for the championship game.

Illinois has similarly exempted Olympians from paying taxes on their awards in the past.

"Olympic athletes proudly represent our state and country," Morrison said. "We should honor them for their commitment. Exempting Illinois' taxes on their prizes is one small way to show our appreciation."

Similarly to Illinois, U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, has been looking to exempt Olympians from paying taxes on their awards.

The bill met some resistance from state Sens. Dan Duffy, a Lake Barrington Republican, and Kyle McCarter, a Lebanon Republican who called the measure a "feel-good bill."

"They're not going to get taxed on their medals," McCarter said, arguing many Olympians' expenses outweigh their winnings, so they might not pay taxes anyway.

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