Gambling Winnings What You Should Know About the Taxation of Gambling Winnings in Wisconsin Fact Sheet 1104 revenue.wi.gov Do I Pay Tax on My Gambling Winnings in Wisconsin? Yes, gambling winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on your Wisconsin income tax return.
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- In certain cases, federal income taxes will be withheld from your gambling winnings. The withholding rules differ depending on the type of gambling. The amount of federal income tax withheld will.
- Typically, you'll receive paperwork from the casino (or other source of your payout) to complete if you win a certain amount. You must provide your Social Security number and fill out IRS Form W-2G. This form is called 'Certain Gambling Winnings,' and allows you to report your winnings as income to Uncle Sam.
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Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and Christina Taylor, MBA, senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma Tax®.
Hit it big playing the lottery? You’re probably thinking about how you’ll spend all that sweet cash. But first, Uncle Sam is going to want his cut.
The Internal Revenue Service considers lottery money as gambling winnings, which are taxed as ordinary income. The total amount of tax you pay on your lottery winnings will depend on multiple factors, including the state where you live and whether you take the winnings as a lump-sum payment (one check for the full amount after taxes have been withheld) or an annuity (smaller annual payments that are paid out and taxed over time).
Although you probably won’t be able to completely escape the tax man, you may be able to offset taxes on lottery winnings by claiming deductions you qualify for. Here are some things to know about paying federal income taxes on lottery winnings. Keep in mind tax rules may vary for state and local income taxes, so for the purposes of this article, we’re talking about federal income taxes only.Credit Karma Tax® can calculate tax on gambling income Learn More
Do I have to pay taxes on lottery winnings?
The IRS considers most types of income taxable, unless the tax code specifically says it’s not. Because lottery winnings are considered gambling winnings, which are definitely considered taxable income, the IRS will want its cut.
For lottery winnings, that means one of two things.
- You’ll either pay taxes on all the winnings in the year you receive the money — for winnings paid out as a lump-sum payment.
- Or you’ll pay taxes only on the amount you receive each year — for winnings paid as an annuity.
Take note: If you receive interest on annuity installments that haven’t been paid to you yet, that interest must be included in your gross income for the tax year you received it.
How will the IRS know about my lottery winnings?
If your winnings are $600 or more, the lottery agency is supposed to give you a Form W-2G that you’ll have to file with your federal income tax return if the agency withheld federal income tax from your winnings.
The lottery agency is also required to send a copy of this form to the IRS if your winnings are $600 or more, so it’s important to accurately report your winnings on your federal tax return.
And even if you don’t receive a W-2G for your lottery winnings (or other type of gambling payouts), you’re still expected to report those winnings as income on your federal tax return.
How could winning the lottery affect my taxes overall?
Getting a huge financial windfall can be life-changing, but it doesn’t change everything — you’ll still have to pay taxes and bills. Federal and state taxes can decrease the amount of money you ultimately receive, so it’s crucial to understand taxes on lottery winnings when you strike it big.
Whether you’re all-in on your prize money and accept it as a lump sum or you’re receiving payments over time, winning the lottery generally increases your income. Taxes are calculated based on your taxable income for the year, so if the extra income from lottery winnings moves you into a higher tax bracket, you’ll typically end up paying more income tax.
If you fail to report taxable income (including lottery winnings) on your tax return, you could owe additional tax, interest and even penalties.Credit Karma Tax® can calculate tax on gambling income Learn More
What is the tax rate for lottery winnings?
Depending on where you live, you may need to pay taxes on lottery winnings to your state and local governments in addition to the federal government.
Right off the bat, lottery agencies are required to withhold 24% from winnings of $5,000 or more, which goes to the federal government. But, depending on whether your winnings affect your tax bracket, there could potentially be a gap between the mandatory withholding amount and what you’ll ultimately owe the IRS.
Even if your lottery winnings don’t boost your tax bracket, if the federal government withheld too much tax on your lottery winnings, you might get a refund at tax time.
State and local tax
Each state has its own rules on taxing lottery winnings, so check both your state’s tax website and your city’s tax website for information. For example, if you live and win in New York City, the state government will withhold 8.82% and the city will withhold another 3.876% — on top of your base federal withholding of 24%.
Seven states — Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming — don’t have income tax, so big winners in those states won’t pay state taxes on prize money. Some other states don’t have a state lottery at all.
And three more states — California, New Hampshire and Tennessee — exclude their state lottery winnings from taxable income. But before you play the lottery in a different state, check the rules so that you know whether any taxes will apply to your winnings.
Should I take a lump sum or annuity payments?
Whether you get to choose between a lump sum or annual installments for your lottery payout can depend on different factors, like state lottery rules and how much you won. Either way, here’s how the two payout types will affect your federal income taxes.
Receiving your winnings as a single lump sum could potentially bump you right into the highest bracket for the tax year in which you win the lottery. That would mean if you win a very large amount, your income over a set threshold ($518,401 for single taxpayers and $622,051 for married couples filing jointly, for 2020) would be taxed by the IRS at 37%.
“If you decide to have a lump sum payment, that would probably put you in the higher tax bracket for that one year,” says Megan McManus, CPA and owner at Megan McManus, CPA.
For example, if you’re single and your current taxable income is $40,000, a $1 million lottery payout, taken in a lump sum, would increase your total income to $1,040,000 for the tax year. At the federal level, the portion of your income over $518,401 would be taxed at 37%. But all the lower tax rates would also apply to portions of your income less than that threshold. Here’s what you’d pay (rounded to the nearest dollar).
- 10% on income up to $9,700 = $970
- 12% on the next $29,775 = $3,573
- 22% on the next $44,725 = $9,839
- 24% on the next $76,525 = $18,366
- 32% on the next $43,375 = $13,880
- 35% on the next $306,200 = $107,170
- 37% on the last $529,700 = $195,989
If you add all that up, your total federal income tax obligation for the year would be $349,787.
Annual payments impact
Depending on your income, receiving annual payments will also likely affect your tax bracket — but the immediate financial impact could be less.
“The annuity payments would probably allow you to be in a lower tax bracket each year,” McManus says.
Let’s look at the above scenario with the same amount of lottery winnings broken out into 30 annual payments of about $33,333.
With the annuity approach, your taxable income would increase to just $73,333 in the year you won the lottery (assuming other factors like a wage increase didn’t boost your taxable income). The highest federal tax rate that would apply to your income would be just 22%. Here’s what you’d pay (rounded to the nearest dollar).
- 10% on up to $9,700 = $970
- 12% on the next $29,775 = $3,573
- 22% on the remaining $33,858 = $7,449
Your total federal income tax obligation for the year in which you win would be just $11,992.
Learn more about the marginal tax rate and what it means for your winnings.
How can I offset federal taxes on lottery winnings?
If you’ve won the lottery, the IRS expects you to report it as income on your tax return. And Uncle Sam is going to want his share whether you receive your winnings as a lump sum or annual payments. But there are ways to try to offset the increased tax obligation your lottery winnings will cause.
Deductions are dollar amounts the IRS allows you to subtract from your adjusted gross income, or AGI, if you meet the requirements. This lowers your taxable income, which in turn can reduce your tax obligation. Here are two possible deductions (if you itemize).
- Charitable donations — You may be able to deduct the value of your charitable contributions from your income as long as the organization is a qualified tax-exempt organization — but certain conditions and limits apply. For example, you can only deduct cash donations that are equal to no more than 60% of your AGI.
- Gambling losses — You can deduct your gambling losses (like the cost of lottery tickets that you didn’t win on) as long as they don’t exceed the winnings you report as income. For example, if you report $1,000 in winnings but you have $2,000 in losses, you can only deduct $1,000.
Play the lottery in a pool
If you join a pool with others to buy lottery tickets, then any potential lottery prizes will be smaller because you’re sharing it — but your tax hit will be smaller, too.
“You’ll only be taxed on your portion of the income,” McManus says, “so if you receive a third of the winnings, you would only pay tax on that third.”
To make sure you’re taxed correctly, document how much of the winnings go to each person in your group. Ask the lottery agency to cut checks for each person in the pool instead of having one person collect and distribute the winnings. This may help ensure you only pay taxes on the amount you actually receive.
Winning the lottery could change your life by giving you a certain level of financial freedom. But before claiming your prize, consider speaking with a financial or tax adviser who can help you understand the potential tax impact of your winnings and plan the best way to manage your windfall.
Consider how you plan to use the money.
“If you want to buy a house or put your kids through college, you might need the funds now, as opposed to taking annual payments,” McManus says.
But if your objective is to ensure a steady stream of income, annual payments may be more appealing to you.
Whether you receive your lottery winnings as a lump sum or annual payments though, you’ll still have to pay the federal government — and possibly your state and local government — their share of your winnings. So it’s important to have a plan for how to best save, invest and grow the winnings you’ll keep.Credit Karma Tax® can calculate tax on gambling income Learn More
Relevant sources: Topic No. 419 Gambling Income and Losses | IRS: Publication 538 | New York Lottery General Rules | IRS: Pay As You Go, So You Won’t Owe
Christina Taylor is senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma Tax®. She has more than a dozen years of experience in tax, accounting and business operations. Christina founded her own accounting consultancy and managed it for more than six years. She codeveloped an online DIY tax-preparation product, serving as chief operating officer for seven years. She is the current treasurer of the National Association of Computerized Tax Processors and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting from Baker College and an MBA from Meredith College. You can find her on LinkedIn.
Taxes are probably the last thing on your mind during an exciting gambling session. However, they inevitably come up following a big win or profitable year.
You may have two main questions at this point:
- Do I need to pay taxes on my wins?
- If so, how much do I have to pay?
The following guide discusses whether your gambling wins are taxable and other important topics regarding this subject.
How Much Taxes Do You Pay On Casino Winnings In California
The Short Answer Is Yes
I’ll cut right to the chase: yes, you do need to pay federal taxes on gambling winnings in the United States. This is especially true when you net a big win and receive a W-2G form.
According to the IRS, a gambling establishment should issue a W-2G when you win an amount that’s subject to federal income tax withholding (24% of win).
Slot machines present a famous example of when you’ll receive a W-2G form after winning so much. Casinos must issue a form when you win a prize worth $1,200 or more through slots or video poker.
How Much Taxes Do You Pay On Casino Winnings
As for the second point, a sportsbook or racetrack must withhold federal taxes when you win a bet worth 300x your initial stake. If you wager $5 and win $3,000, for example, then the bookmaker will issue a W-2G form and withhold $720 (24%).
Here’s a broader look at the W-2G and tax withholding threshold for different types of gambling:
- $600+ through sportsbooks and racetracks (provided it’s 300x your stake).
- $1,200+ through a slot machine, video poker machine, or bingo game.
- $1,500+ through keno.
- $5,000+ through a poker tournament.
All Winnings Are Subject to Taxation
Technically, you’re supposed to report any gambling winnings—big or small. Even if you win $20 in an office betting pool, the IRS wants to know about it.
If you want to stay above board, then you should report all wins on Form 1040 (under “other income”). As I’ll cover later, you can deduct losses from winnings as well.
Furthermore, any amount that’s withheld by a casino, poker room, sportsbook, or racetrack is deducted from what you owe. Gambling establishments keep 24% of a win when they do withhold money.
W-2G Forms Don’t Apply to Table Games
You’ll receive a W-2G when earning big wins through most types of gambling. However, casino table games are an exception to the norm.
Unlike a jackpot game (e.g. video poker) or a poker tournament, casinos have no idea how much money you start with in a table game. Therefore, they can’t really determine when you do and don’t experience big wins.
Examples of table games that are exempt from W-2G forms include:
- Caribbean stud
- Three-card poker
The IRS still expects you to pay taxes on profits earned through table games. Again, though, the casino can’t issue a W-2G because they can’t tell how much money you’ve actually won.
Some States Tax Gambling Winnings
Most states tax your income, including gambling winnings. Depending upon where you live, you’ll probably need to pay taxes to both the IRS and your state.For Example:
Michigan features a 4.25% flat income tax. The Wolverine State expects you to pay this same 4.25% rate on gambling wins.
West Virginia, on the other hand, doesn’t tax your winnings. Casinos/sportsbooks in the Mountaineer State only withhold federal taxes (when necessary).
Assuming you travel to another state to gamble, you may have two states wanting taxes. Luckily, though, you won’t be subject to double taxation.
Instead, your home state will give you credit for whatever taxes are paid to the state where the winnings occurred.
Can You Deduct Losses?
How Much Taxes Do I Pay On Gambling Winnings
You can deduct gambling losses from winnings. However, these deductions are itemized rather than standard deductions.
Here’s an example to explain:
- You win $5,000 through sports betting.
- You lose $4,500.
- You must report the full $5,000—not $500 (5,000 – 4,500)—under other income.
- Meanwhile, the $4,500 is reported through various itemized deductions.
In short, itemized deductions are expenses that reduce your taxable income. The standardized variety includes flat-dollar, common deductions.
You may be able to save more money through itemized deductions. However, standard deductions are easier to deal with and also have the potential to save you more money.
Regardless, you must use itemized deductions when dealing with losses. This means spending more time on your tax returns or working with an accountant.
Keep in mind that you won’t receive a tax refund for gambling losses. Instead, you can only deduct an amount equal to your winnings each year. If you win $3,500, for example, then you can’t deduct more than $3.5k and expect a return.
Keep Records on Wins & Losses
The IRS may take your word at face value when it comes to gambling. Of course, they also have the ability to audit you when they deem it necessary.
That said, you don’t want to guestimate on your wins and losses. Instead, you want proof through the form of records.
What Percentage Of Taxes Do You Pay On Casino Winnings
Journals offer a great way to record your gambling activities. You can log the following for each entry:
- Date of gambling session
- Location of the establishment
- Game played
- Starting bankroll
- Ending bankroll
Such entries don’t guarantee you’re being honest. However, they at least show the IRS that you’re making a legitimate attempt at recordkeeping.
You can take your recordkeeping efforts even further by holding onto any other relevant documents. Betting slips, winning tickets, canceled checks, bank statements, W-2G forms, and anything else of relevance are all worth saving.
What Happens If You Don’t Report Gambling Winnings?
The IRS fully expects you to report gambling winnings and especially annual profits. They don’t take kindly to you failing to report these wins.
Of course, you’re unlikely to draw an audit for winning a $25 sports bet. You stand a higher chance of being audited, though, if you win enough for a W-2G form.
How Much Taxes Do You Pay On Casino Winnings
In this case, the casino/sportsbook/racetrack also sends a copy of the from to the IRS. The latter features reliable software that can match up your reported income with documentation of nonreported income.
Assuming you fail to report gambling winnings, then the IRS may do little more than send a letter and issue a small fine. You should definitely pay up, or at least work out a payment plan, in this case.
You’ll face more serious consequences, though, if you fail to report a huge win and lie about the matter when/if caught. Refusal to pay and/or heavy efforts to cover up the deceit will lead to bigger fines and possibly jail time.
Gamblers Stand Increased Chances of an Audit
How Much Taxes Do You Have To Pay On Casino Winnings
Nobody likes attracting an audit from the IRS. Unfortunately, the chances of being audited increase for gamblers.
This is especially true when you net a big win and receive a W-2G. Of course, you can reduce the odds of being audited by claiming anything on the form.
The IRS may also become suspicious if you claim big losses on your tax return. You’ll put the taxman on increased alert when winning a huge prize (e.g. $50,000) and claiming a matching amount of losses.
Also, you can’t write off hotel stays, meals, and entertainment as a casual gambler. You must be a professional to claim such itemized deductions.
How Do Professional Gamblers Report Winnings?
Pro gamblers claim winnings on Schedule C as a self-employed person rather than as other income on Form 1040.
Even as a professional, you can’t deduct more losses than winnings in a year. You’re stuck in a tough situation with treating gambling as a day job, yet not being able to file losses that exceed winnings.
As mentioned before, though, you’re able to deduct business expenses like hotel stays and meals. These expenses just need to be a legitimate part of your business.
In answer to the original question, yes, you’re supposed to claim real money gambling winnings on federal tax forms. Even if you end up losing money on the year, the IRS wants to see your wins and losses.
Of course, tax collectors don’t care a great deal when you win $200 on the year. They spend most of their time looking for bigger winners.
The times when you want to be especially diligent in this matter include:
- When you book a large win and receive a W-2G form.
- If you win a significant amount of profits throughout the year.
- When you win 600x your bet with a sports or horse wager.
Again, the IRS and your state (if applicable) expect all gambling winnings to be reported. But you can use some commonsense in deciding when reporting wins are truly necessary.