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Sorry, Maya Dirado: You'll still have to pay taxes on that Olympic medal

Olympic medalist Abbey Weitzeil of Santa Clarita. (Orlin Wagner / Associated Press)
Olympic medalist Abbey Weitzeil of Santa Clarita. (Orlin Wagner / Associated Press)

For an Olympic medal winner from California, call it the thrill of victory and the agony of taxes.

And it won't change when they return from Rio de Janeiro, after an effort to exempt their winnings from state taxes was killed on Thursday by a legislative panel.

AB 1944 by Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) would have given tax-exempt status to bonuses paid by the U.S. Olympic Committee for athletes who win gold, silver or bronze medals.

Those payments — $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze — are considered taxable income under California law. The bill would have exempted those winnings for a four-year period starting this tax year.

The bill was killed without discussion or explanation by the Senate's appropriations committee during the biannual "suspense file" hearing to decide the fate of bills that would cost money to the state.

The costs, as estimated in a committee analysis, were pretty minor: $100,000 this year and a total of $10,000 in the following two tax years.

The bill, which would have also made winnings in the Paralympic Games tax-free, was hardly a new idea. Legislative efforts in 2012 and 2014 also failed to win passage.

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