Do I Need to Pay Taxes on My Gambling Payouts?
We all have to pay taxes but there seems to be a misconception that the money you win, no matter how little, counts as a taxable income in the United States and by not declaring it you could actually be breaking the law.
In this article, we’ll be looking at the best practices for you so that you can stay on the right side of the law, how to keep track of your winnings, what you should do with your winnings with regards to tax, and what the laws actually are when it comes to gambling and tax in the US. We’ve done our best to explain the taxation system of sports betting in plain language so we hope you enjoy it.
It’s worth noting that this article is not intended to be a comprehensive guide for gamblers because there are many variables and complexities when it comes to gambling so we’re going to strictly look at the tax laws and what you need to do in order to stay on the right side of them.
What is classed as a “winning” by the IRS?
The first thing you need to know is whether your winnings will be considered taxable income by the IRS. Whether or not your winnings are taxable income depends on two main factors: your gambling activity, and how much money you make from it during a year.
The IRS defines “gambling activity” as playing games of skill, such as poker and blackjack, as well as participating in lotteries even if these aren’t sports betting games. Sports betting is only one of several activities that can trigger taxation under US law, but there is no legal definition for sports betting per se in US law. This makes things complicated if you’re trying to figure out what constitutes participation in sports betting – see below for more details on this topic.
You also need an annual income level threshold before you become liable for taxes – again we’ll cover more specifics below but essentially if your annual gross income isn’t higher than $400 then the IRS doesn’t consider anything above this amount as taxable income which means that none of your winnings would count towards your total gross earnings during the year so none would be subject to taxation.
What is the winning threshold?
How much you win is also taken into account in the US – the IRS requires gamblers to report amounts over $600 as taxable income so if you’ve won a significant amount of money from sports betting, poker games, or other gambling activities then it’s important that you declare it correctly.
It’s also worth noting that although not all casino games are considered sports betting this does not mean that you’re exempt from taxation if you play them for money – any prizes or winnings resulting from these games must still be declared and this includes casino cashback offers which aren’t reported by casinos as “winnings” but which will count towards your taxable income at the end of each year.
The same goes for bonuses and promotions like free spins which are considered separate from gambling in most countries where they’re offered. Since there is no legal definition in place for what constitutes sports betting, it’s best to stay on the safe side and declare anything you receive whilst engaged in gambling activities as taxable income.
How can I declare my winnings?
Things get a little bit trickier when we look at how to actually declare any winnings or losses with regards to tax, especially relating to online sportsbooks and other related services. In order to determine whether taxes need to be paid on your sports bets, the IRS requires proof of both activity and results.
This means that even if an individual can prove he wagered more than $6k per year at one site alone, he would still have to provide evidence of his wins/losses over time – otherwise, he could lose his tax exemption status. There has been some controversy surrounding this part of US law because although many gamblers file returns based on their gross annual earnings without reporting their losses, others simply claim their losses without providing supporting documentation.
Does the amount I bet have an effect on my gambling taxes?
Most states in the US have a tax liability system in place which means that if you bet more than $600 on a single or multiple bets, or $1.2k (the amount changes from state to state) per year total on sports betting, then there is no legal way to avoid paying taxes. This threshold is written into law and it’s considered by the IRS to be an absolute fact.
The only exceptions are those who win cash prizes from lottery games because although technically these are brought about through sports betting and therefore subject to taxation, they’re exempt from taxation as long as they remain less than $600. People like professional gamblers and people with a large income who can demonstrate that their annual gambling activity exceeds this level may be required to file Form W-2G with the IRS after making their wagers.
This form reports details of all wagers made during the previous year including date and type of wager, amount wagered, name of customer, customer ID number if available etcetera. Once all information has been provided, sign and date the form before sending it to the address provided on the document. It’s important to note that only those US residents who exceed the gambling threshold need to file Form W-2G, not those visiting from other countries.