We Get Questions on Gambling and Taxes

Question 1.

“Good afternoon Russ,

“I am a regular [poker] player online and I was wondering the policy in the state of California? Is there a certain amount and above that needs to be reported on your taxes? Since the money comes in overseas is there even a policy?”

The US Tax Code is quite explicit about gambling income: it’s taxable. And whatever the source–US or foreign–all income is taxable unless Congress explicitly exempts it.

California taxes start with the Adjusted Gross Income from your US tax return. The only gambling income exempted on a California tax return is California lottery winnings.

Either report it or you are committing tax evasion.

Question 2.

“Hello, sir:

I AM 73 YEARS OLD AND WON A $1700.00 $1.00 TRIFECTA. I RECEIVED A W2-G FORM from Churchill Downs Racetrack but i don’t know what or where to go with it.

The Form shows that no money has been withdrawn yet from the Winings. i understand that the Law states that in horseracing, a person owes taxes if the winnings are 300 times the wager. Therefore, if I played a $1.00 Trifectsa( I bet $36.00) i am liable. Right?

If so, my friend, what do I do now? I pay NO TAXES currently. The only money taken out of my check is a $93 amount for Medicare.

Can you please tell me how to proceed? I DO appreciate your help.”

First, you owe tax on all gambling winnings whether or not you receive a W-2G. Your gambling winnings go on line 21 of Form 1040 (other income). You can deduct losses up to the amount of your winnings as an itemized deduction on Schedule A.

It sounds like your only other income is Social Security. Assuming that the $1700 is your only gambling winnings of 2008, you almost certainly won’t have to pay income tax on your winnings–your Social Security won’t be taxed and with just $1700 of income you won’t owe any income tax. However, if you have other significant gambling winnings your Social Security could be taxed.

Question 3.

“I reside in New York City, and am planning on moving to Thailand at year-end and will be a professional gambler. I understand that if I’m out of the US for 330 days out of 365 I’m eligible for the Earned Income Exclusion.”

So far so good….

“My question is how can I avoid New York taxes? How can New York tax me when I’m going to be a resident of Bangkok?”

At this point, cue Murray Head and One Night in Bangkok. Now that we have the appropriate theme in the background, here’s the answer: Because they can.

Seriously, every US citizen is considered a resident of a US state or territory. You have a domicile (residency) in that state. Until you establish a domicile in another US state or territory you are considered a resident of whatever state you currently reside in. The toughest states in enforcing this are New York and California; both routinely conduct residency audits.

You may wish to consider first establishing residency in a state with no income tax, such as Texas, Florida, or Nevada, before moving to Thailand. You would need to sever your ties with New York and establish ties with your new state. You should stay in your new state for several months so that you truly become a resident of your new state.

Just a reminder: This opinion is limited to the one or more Federal tax issues addressed in the opinion. Additional issues may exist that could affect the Federal tax treatment of the transaction or matter that is the subject of this opinion and the opinion does not consider or provide a conclusion with respect to any additional issues. With respect to any significant Federal tax issues outside the limited scope of this opinion, the article was not written, and cannot be used by the taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer.

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