Winning at the casinos or at Pennsylvania online sportsbooks and poker sites is exciting. Computing and paying taxes on your gambling income is not, but it’s necessary.
Whether you play on PA online gambling sites or at a land-based casino, gambling winnings must be reported on your federal and PA income tax returns. The following answers general questions on how gambling winnings are taxed in PA. If you’re unsure about a specific tax issue, it’s best to consult a tax professional before filing to avoid any potential mistakes.
All gambling winnings are taxable. That includes winnings from Pennsylvania sports betting, casino games, slots, pari-mutuel racing, poker and lottery. Depending on the amount of your winnings, your online casino, online sportsbook or online poker site may have already withheld federal tax, which will be indicated in a W-2G form mailed to you and sent to the Internal Revenue Service. Even if you didn’t receive a W-2G form and the operator did not withhold taxes, it is your responsibility to report all gambling winnings on your tax returns.
In addition to federal tax, Pennsylvania assesses its own personal income tax on gambling income.
Benefits you receive from Pennsylvania online casino bonuses are taxable exactly as if you had won the money playing. It does not matter if the promotion offers hard cash, credits, extra spins or merchandise, the fair value of the promo counts as income for tax purposes.
In PA you will have to pay state income tax and federal income tax if your winnings + promo benefits are greater than your losses. PA gambling promotions can add up to a substantial amount of value. We suggest that you keep records so that you have the information at hand when it comes time to give the government its share.
Even if taxes reduce the effective value of a promotion there is one tactic you can use to make up the shortfall. Apply for several welcome promos. No reason why you can't maintain accounts at several online casinos or sportsbooks. The advantage is not just the initial bonus package. Each brand offers daily, weekly and monthly promotions so if one of your sportsbooks hasn't got a boosted odds promo or similar for a game you want to bet on, there's a good chance another sportsbook will have just the promotion you need.
The government will still take its pound of flesh, but you should get plenty of extra value and entertainment in if you take best advantage of PA sportsbook promos.
Generally, gambling winnings are subject to a 24% federal withholding tax, which is automatically deducted from winnings that reach a specific threshold (see next section for exact amounts), though that is an estimated tax and the actual amount you will owe will depend on your tax bracket.
In addition, the state of PA charges a flat 3.07% tax on income, which includes casino winnings.
Depending on the amount of your winnings, you may receive a W-2G form, which is sent by the payor (casino, racetrack, poker site, etc), typically in late January. The form indicates the amount of your winnings and if any tax was withheld. A copy of that W-2G is also mailed to the IRS. Expect to receive a W-2G if your gambling winnings exceeded any of these thresholds the previous calendar year:
Even if you don’t receive a W-2G form, you are required to report the full amount of gambling winnings as “other income” on Form 1040, Schedule 1, Line 8. If your winnings were non-cash prizes, the IRS instructs you to report the fair market value of each prize.
In addition to your federal tax return, include gambling winnings on your PA-40 personal income tax return. Gambling income is placed on line 8 of Schedule T.
What if you’re a PA resident and your gambling winnings were derived from another state? PA law says that all winnings are still subject to the PA state income tax and must be reported, with the exception of non-cash prizes from the Pennsylvania lottery.
You will not receive a W-2G if your winnings didn’t meet the automatic withholding threshold. But those winnings are still considered taxable income and must be reported on Form 1040 (Schedule 1) and your PA-40 state tax return (Schedule T).
The IRS expects you to keep an accurate account of your betting activity and may require you to substantiate wins and losses. Note that if you wager online, your sportsbook or racetrack betting provider generally provides a record of all your wagers that you can easily access. When wagering at land-based sportsbooks and racetracks, bettors should keep an accurate diary of all their wagers, wins and losses.
The good news is, you can. The bad news is, your deductible losses cannot exceed your winnings in any given year. So if you had $3,000 in winnings and $10,000 in losses, your deduction is limited to $3,000. The remaining $7,000 cannot be carried forward.
And, gambling losses can only be deducted if you itemize deductions on your tax return (Schedule A, line 28 of Form 1040). That means if you claim the standard deduction (as an estimated 90% of households do), you cannot reduce your tax by deducting gambling losses.
If you do itemize your deductions, record-keeping again becomes vitally important. To substantiate gambling wins and losses, your documentation should include:
Having a winning ticket in the Pennsylvania lottery is taxable. If your winnings are at least $600, you will receive a W-2G form. If the prize is over $5,000, the PA lottery will automatically withhold the minimum amount of applicable taxes.
For bigger payouts, the PA lottery will offer a choice to collect winnings in a lump sum or annual annuity payments. A lump sum is more likely to place you in a significantly higher tax bracket, but these decisions are complex and should be made in consultation with a trustworthy tax attorney/financial advisor.
This is not a rare occurrence. According to the PA lottery website, individual checks can be issued for prizes of $50,000 or more, as long as each individual’s share exceeds $2,500.
The PA lottery will ask the winning ticket holders to complete IRS Form 5754, in which all of the individuals and the amount of their winnings are listed. The lottery commission then prepares a W-2G form for each winner, listing the amount each receives. All W-2G forms are submitted to the IRS, which expects each winner to report the money shown on the form.
Also taxable. According to the PA Department of Revenue, multi-state lottery prizes, such as Mega Millions and Powerball, purchased from PA lottery vendors “are considered a prize awarded by the Pennsylvania State Lottery. Such prizes are considered Pennsylvania source income and both residents and nonresidents are subject to tax on such income if the prize is a cash prize.”
Winnings are subject to both federal and state taxes. One small consolation is PA’s 3.07% state tax on lottery winnings is less than half than neighboring states such as New York (8.82%), New Jersey (8.0%) and West Virginia (6.5%).
Your tax bill could become a lot worse, with possible penalties and interest payments added on. Keep in mind that if you received a statement of winnings on Form W-2G, the Internal Revenue Service also has a copy. If you do no report those winnings, the IRS could tell you to report them, or add interest and penalties to your tax bill.
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More than 30 years working in online gaming and sports journalism. I hope to explain the growing US online casino market to help those new to internet gambling have a better understanding.
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