Against an Olympian Tax Break: Tom Coburn

Senator Marco Rubio's bizarre proposal to exempt Olympic winnings from federal taxes has taken Washington by storm, garnering endorsements from both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, in addition to Dave Camp, chairman of the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.

I'm pleased to see that at least one elected official opposes the proposal: Republican Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. His spokesman John Hart emails:

If tax code gymnastics was an Olympic sport this idea might get a medal.  Like the carve outs for NASCAR, rum makers and electric motorcycles, tax earmarks are a tax increase for everyone who doesn't receive the benefit. I'm not sure taxpayers want to pay higher rates to help beleaguered Olympic medalists who have to manage endorsement offers.

Hart's a little harsh here -- not every Olympic medalist is Michael Phelps. But it's great to see Coburn sticking up, as he generally does, for the proposition that the tax base should be broad so that it is possible for rates to be low. Most tax breaks sound superficially appealing. Tax reform will only happen if legislators learn to say "no" to them anyway.

(Josh Barro is lead writer for the Ticker. E-mail him and follow him on Twitter.)

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