What To Know About Taxation Of Gambling Winnings

Jun 6, 2017 | Blog

image of a blackjack tableOne of the biggest gambling events of the year is the Kentucky Derby. This is usually a chance for horse-racing fans to make some quick cash at the tracks. After all, the horses, riders and trainers are known, so the adds favor certain horses. However, there are also some underdogs that may pull off a surprise win. This can be a great opportunity to win big. The number of bets as well as the amount of money that will be staked during the Kentucky Derby will be quite considerable as people from around the world will also be watching the event and placing their bets. While the focus is on the races, many people have not thought about paying taxes on their winnings. In fact, some people do not even know that gambling winnings are taxable.

How Gambling Winnings are Taxed

Taxpayers are required to pay taxes on all the income they get, whether it’s from employment, dividends or gambling winnings. The federal government has singled out gambling winnings and imposed a special tax on all gambling winnings whether it’s at the tracks or casino. Some states have also imposed a special tax on gambling winnings. In addition to paying these taxes, you must also report them when filing your tax returns. There are also special forms, known as W2-G forms, that must be filled when your winnings exceed a certain amount.

The gambling tax rate imposed by the federal government is 25% of the total winnings. However, your winnings must reach or exceed the threshold set.

Below are the thresholds for different types of gambling winnings:

– $5,000 in tournament winnings at the poker table
– $1,500 in keno winnings
– $1,200 at a bingo game or slot machine
– $600 at the horse tracks (but this must be 300 times your bet)

If your winnings have reached or exceeded these thresholds, you will be required to fill IRS Form W2-G and pay a tax rate of 25% for the total gambling income. In most cases, the casino will withhold 25% of your winnings on behalf of the government before paying you.

It is important to note that taxpayers are not always required to fill the IRS Form W2-G when their gambling winnings exceed the thresholds highlighted above. For instance, you do not have fill this form if your winnings are from table games, such as roulette, craps, baccarat or blackjack, regardless of the amount. However, you still have to report these winnings when filing your tax returns and pay the gambling tax.

Paying Tax on Smaller Winnings

If your gambling winnings have not reached the thresholds noted above, does it mean your winnings are tax-exempt? No, it doesn’t. What it means is that you will not pay the 25% gambling tax. Instead, you will have to add it to your employment income and treat it like any other taxable income. The income must be declared on Form 1040. The good news is that you can avoid paying tax on your winnings by claiming any losses that you might have incurred. However, your deductions cannot exceed the total winnings.

We know that all these rules can be confusing. If you have recently won some money gambling, or are looking to become a professional gambler, contact a tax attorney today to find out the particulars on what you owe Uncle Sam!