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Rubio offers bill to waive taxes on Olympic medals, winnings

Adrees Latif / Reuters

After the hugs, comes the tax bill. Teammates embrace McKayla Maroney, center, after her performance on the vault helped the U.S. women's gymnastics team win the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

When America's Olympic gold-medal winning women gymnasts return from London, they'll be coming home to accolades, parades, interviews, endorsements -- and tax bills.

In a move timed to coincide with the huge interest in the Olympic Games in London (and the upcoming election in November), Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a bill to waive taxes for the honorariums winning athletes get along with their gold, silver or bronze medals.

Besides a medal, winning athletes also get an honorarium: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. So for the Fab Five gymnasts who won Tuesday in London -- McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and Jordyn Wieber -- that's a total honorarium of $125,000.

Americans for Tax Reform, a group that opposes tax increases, has calculated that an athlete's tax bill for winning a gold medal totals $8,936, including $8,750 based on a 35 percent tax on the honorarium, and $236 for the value of the medal. Based on that, the Fab Five would owe Uncle Sam $44,680 collectively.

Of course, some might say that these are winnings, and just like any other winnings, they are subject to U.S. federal income taxes.

Rubio, who's considered a possible running mate for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, thinks the athletes should get an exemption, though.

“We need a fundamental overhaul of our tax code, but we shouldn’t wait any time we have a chance to aggressively fix ridiculous tax laws like this tax on Olympians’ medals and prize money,” Rubio said in a statement to introduce the The Olympic Tax Elimination Act, or TEAM Act.  “We can all agree that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to athletic excellence should not be punished when they achieve it.”

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Once the excitement of earning a medal at the 2012 Olympics wears off, athletes will have to pay a price for victory in the form of taxes on their cash prizes, which add up to almost $9,000 for every gold medal. NBC's Natalie Morales reports.