Are you familiar with the saying, “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”? Well, it may sound good in movies, TV shows, and travel commercials, but the fact is at least one thing that happens in Vegas is guaranteed NOT to stay in Vegas.
If you win more than a certain amount of money in a Las Vegas casino, management is obliged to file a form with the government for tax purposes—complete with your Social Security number. Come April 15, if you don't declare your gambling winnings, your paperwork won't match that of the IRS, and you'll be in deep trouble. Here are the applicable cutoffs for winnings in Vegas (and elsewhere):
- $1,200 from a slot machine
- $1,500 from a Keno game
- $5,000 from a poker game
- Any payoff of at least $600, provided that amounts to at least 300 times your initial bet. (This might apply, for instance, to a lucky streak at blackjack.)
What happens if you win your money at a non-government-sanctioned location, such as an illegal nightclub or an NCAA basketball pool at your office? In this case, there's more of a gray area. If you're an especially scrupulous taxpayer, you may choose to declare your $500 winnings, but the IRS probably won't notice if you “forget” to do this. If you win much more than that—say, $5,000 rather than $500—any reputable tax lawyer will advise you to declare that income, especially if it amounts to a sizable chunk of your annual salary.
If you are an Oklahoma resident who has won thousands of dollars in Vegas or some other gambling location, contact the Oklahoma tax experts at Travis. W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) for a free consultation. We'll advise you on the best way to declare this income on your taxes to help avoid potential problems with the IRS.