Olympic medalists could get Indiana tax break

Nicholas Goepper of the United States is congratulated after winning the bronze medal in men's ski slopestyle at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Olympic medal winners from Indiana could soon get a state tax break on the value of their medals and any prize money.

The Indiana House voted unanimously Thursday to approve a bill that includes exempting those Olympic prizes from state taxes.

The tax break would be retroactive to Jan. 1, so it would for now apply just to 19-year-old Nick Goepper of Lawrenceburg, who won a bronze medal in Sochi for slopestyle skiing, The Indianapolis Star reported.

Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, sponsored the amendment that added Olympic tax break to a bill covering various unrelated tax changes.

“We give hundreds of millions of dollars every year to people who come and ask for tax incentives,” Austin said. “We have one medalist. I hope we are going to get a chance to honor him before we leave this session.”

While an analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency found the Olympic tax break’s cost to the state would be “insignificant,” some lawmakers said it didn’t make sense.

“I don’t have anything against Olympic athletes,” said Rep. Thomas Washburne, R-Evansville. “I don’t know why we should give them special tax treatment when every other Hoosier who is working at their job and receives a bonus award or a cash award has to pay taxes. I don’t get it.”

The tax break was added to a bill previously approved by the Senate, so agreement will have to be reached on a final version of the bill before the legislative session ends March 14.

In addition to the bronze medal, Goepper is receiving $10,000 from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Gold medal winners receive $25,000, silver medal winners $15,000.

Other Indiana Olympic athletes — such as diver David Boudia of West Lafayette, who won two medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics — would be eligible in the future if the tax break is approved.

“It would definitely be a blessing,” Boudia said.

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