Most people don’t think about taxes on their way to a racetrack or casino, but what might seem like nothing more than the chance to win some extra money actually has some tax implications. As is often the case, federal and state governments single out casino winnings for unique taxes of their own.
Here is what you need to know about how gambling affects your taxes:
How Much You Win Matters
It’s important for you to know the thresholds that require income reporting by the payer. Winnings in the following amounts must be reported to the IRS by the payer:
- $600 or more at a horse track (if that is 300 times your bet)
- $1,200 or more at a slot machine or bingo game
- $1,500 or more in keno winnings (minus the amount you bet)
- $5,000 or more in poker tournament winnings (minus the amount you bet or buy-in price)
All of these require giving the payer your Social Security number, as well as filling out IRS Form W2-G to report the full amount won. In most cases, the casino will take 24 percent off your winnings for IRS gambling taxes before paying you.
Not all gambling winnings in the amounts above are subject to IRS Form W2-G. W2-G forms are not required for winnings from table games such as blackjack, craps, baccarat, and roulette, regardless of the amount.
Note that this does not mean you are exempt from paying taxes or reporting the winnings on your taxes. Any and all gambling winnings must be reported to the IRS. It only means that you do not have to fill out Form W2-G for these particular table-based games.
Reporting Smaller Winnings
Even if you do not win as much as the amounts above, you are still legally obligated to claim your winnings at tax-time. You also need to report any awards or prize money you won during the year. Yes, even if you only win $10 sports gambling, you still technically have to report it (even if the casino didn’t). Your gambling income also includes the fair market value of prizes such as cars or trips.
Gambling income plus your job income (and any other income) equals your total income. Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to pay taxes on all your winnings. Instead, if you itemize your deductions, you can claim your losses up to the amount of your winnings. But the amount of losses you deduct can’t be more than the amount of gambling income you reported on your tax return.
*Note, under the tax reform law, the gambling loss limitation was modified. Prior to the tax reform law, taxpayers’ costs (like transportation and admission fees) could be claimed regardless of winnings. But beginning with the tax year 2018 (the taxes filed in 2019), all expenses in connection with gambling, not just gambling losses, are limited to gambling winnings.
What About State Taxes?
In addition to federal taxes payable to the IRS, many state governments tax gambling income as well. Each state has its own unique formulas and rules for gambling income, and some levy no gambling taxes at all. Some states charge a flat percentage, while others base the state tax on how much you won.
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