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Income Taxes on Lottery

Is Lottery Tax Deductible

Many taxpayers are surprised to learn that they can take a tax deduction for their losing lottery tickets. However, before you get too excited, you should realize that there are income taxes on lottery winnings as well. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t allow you to deduct any lottery losses unless you also report your lottery winnings. And even if you do report lottery winnings on your income tax return–your lottery loss deduction cannot be more than your taxable winnings.

For example, suppose you purchase 100 instant lottery tickets for $1 each, but only win $50 on one of the tickets. In this case, the IRS requires that you report the $50 of lottery winnings as taxable income on your 1040. This means you can claim a deduction for your lottery losses–but it can’t be more than $50. Keep in mind that no only lottery losses are tax deductible–you can also include your losses at the casino, racetrack and all other gambling you do during the year. So if your $50 of lottery winnings are from the only lottery ticket you purchase during the year, you can deduct up to $50 of other gambling losses.

Deduct Lottery Losses on Schedule A

Your lottery tax deduction can only be reported on a Schedule A attachment to your Form 1040. This means that in order to claim a tax deduction for your gambling losses, you must choose to itemize instead of claiming the standard deduction for your filing status. But if you choose the standard deduction, you still need to pay income taxes on your lottery winnings.

Keeping Track of Tax Deductible Gambling Losses

Gambling losses are only tax deductible if you maintain documentary proof of your wins and losses for all gambling activities during the year. When it comes to deducting lottery ticket losses, recordkeeping is easy because you can just retain all of the tickets. However, if you gamble at casinos or racetracks, you need to keep a diary. The IRS wants you to record every single win and loss by writing down the date and location of each gambling excursion, the names of people who witness your gambling losses and details on each wager you place at the blackjack tables and all of your gambling winnings.

Reference: IRS Publication 529-Miscellaneous Deductions