Answers: Questions about tax on Olympic gold medals, building of St. Boniface Church

Posted: Aug. 31, 2012 7:45 pm Updated: Sep. 20, 2013 5:53 pm


I have heard more than once that the Olympians have to pay a tax on their gold medals. Is that true? How can the government do that to people who train and work so hard to be the best and represent our country?

The medals handed out at the 2012 London Summer Olympics were largest ever in both size and weight, according to a report by CBS News. They were more than twice the size of the medals awarded in Beijing in 2008. The medals were priceless to the athletes, but a bronze medal (made of 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc and 0.5 percent tin) is only worth about $4.70. The gold medal is just over 1 percent actual gold. The rest is made up of 92.5 percent silver and 6.16 percent copper. It is only worth about $644. The silver medal was a modification of the gold medal in which the gold is replaced with more copper. The silver is worth about $330.

U.S. medalists, like those from many other countries, now receive cash prizes from the U.S. Olympic Committee -- $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze. The biggest medal bonus is offered by Italy, which paid more than $182,000 for a gold medal, according to Forbes magazine. Prize winnings are considered taxable income, but many athletes could probably write off their Olympic prize winnings against the cost of their training and other related expenses.

"I heard them talk about that in the last Olympics, too, but back in the day, no, I didn't pay any taxes," said Caren Kemner, Culver-Stockton College women's volleyball coach, who was a member of the bronze medal-winning volleyball team in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. "You also didn't get that chunk of money."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., introduced a bill in Congress on Aug. 1 to make the value of Olympic medals and cash prizes awarded for winning them exempt from U.S. federal income tax. Similar measures, including one by U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Peoria, were introduced in the House.

Kemner's medal is now in a safe-deposit box. "I always was afraid to have it out, so I just put it away," she said.


When was St. Boniface Church built? Is it presently an active church?

According to the Diocese of Springfield website, the parish, originally called Ascension of Christ, was established in 1837 and parishioners consisted primarily of German Catholics. The first church was built on Seventh Street between York and Kentucky in 1838, making it the first Catholic church in Quincy. A second church was built in 1839 on the northwest corner of Seventh and Maine, but it quickly became too small to accommodate the growing number of German Catholics in the city. In 1848, a larger church was built and dedicated to St. Boniface.

Fire destroyed the church in 1959. Architect John Benya designed the current building constructed between 1960 and 1962. Many people believe St. Boniface, with its distinctive metal steeple rising 186 feet from its base to the top of the cross, was one of Benya's greatest achievements. St. Boniface appears on the "150 Great Places in Illinois" list compiled by the American Institute of Architects' Illinois chapters.

The current church served Quincy's Roman Catholics until it was closed in June 2006 as part of a merger with All Saints and St. Mary parishes to create Blessed Sacrament Parish. The Quincy City Council rejected an ordinance to make the church a landmark in October 2007.

The church no longer has a regularly scheduled Mass. A citywide youth Mass had been celebrated at 5 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month, but Monsignor Mike Kuse of Blessed Sacrament said the heating and air-conditioning system at St. Boniface no longer works. So the youth Mass has been held at Blessed Sacrament at Seventh and Monroe since June.

Kuse said the building is for sale, "but we don't have it actively on the market, and we're not sure what the future use is going to be."


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