The Lottery & Taxes + Why Uncle Sam Is Always the Big Winner (2023)

The lottery and taxes:Americans spend an average of $70 billion on lottery tickets every year,fueling the dream of becoming an instant millionaire, or even abillionaire!).Lotteries have existed sincethe fifteenth century and span across a variety of cultural traditions.

You probably know how they work, but do you know how taxes work with a lottery win or gambling jackpot? Here’s what you should know about how taxes work on big lottery and gambling wins:

Jump to: How the lottery works | Odds of winning lottery | | $1 million jackpot after taxes? | How to report lottery winnings

First, How the Lottery Works

First and foremost, lotteries in the U.S. are state-based. The Multi-State Lottery Association, (MSLA) a non-profit organization, oversees the general operation and facilitation of state lotteries, which are, in essence, large-scale gambling games.

States may offer single-state lotteries, or participate in a multi-state lottery, such as the Mega Millions and PowerBall lotteries.

Every lottery operates in a slightly different fashion, but the principle remains the same. Consumers can purchase lottery tickets locally for $1-3 each, usually from convenience and grocery stores or gas stations.

After the winning numbers are announced, players typically collect smaller prizes from the same location where they purchased their tickets, whilelarger winners ($500+) must contact their state’s lottery office for collection.

(Video) If The Lottery Was Honest - Honest Ads

Lottery jackpot winners can opt to receive annual checks over a period of 30 years, or a smaller lump sum payment; usually about 60% of the jackpot total.

The size of prizes depends on ticket sales, but only a fraction of all the money collected from ticket sales ends up in the hands of winners. A skeptical person might even say that the lottery is just a hidden form of taxation on the public, as most of the money ultimately goes to federal and state government, plus MSLA administrative and marketing fees.

So, what are the actual odds of winning the lottery?

Odds of Winning & Payouts

The Lottery & Taxes + Why Uncle Sam Is Always the Big Winner (1)

The most popular lottery to play is Powerball, which also holds the record for the largest jackpot ever at $1.586 billion!

Here are thepayouts for Powerball drawings:

Matching Numbers:Prize:Odds:
5 white balls + Powerball =
$50+ million1 in 292,201,338
5 white balls = $1 million1 in 11,688,053
4 white balls + Powerball = $50,0001 in 913,129
4 white balls =$1001 in 36,525
3 white balls + Powerball =$1001 in 14,494
3 white balls =$7 (woo hoo!)1 in 580

It’s also important to note that more than one person can win the jackpot prize. If several players submit the same combination of “winning” numbers, the jackpot total must be divided amongst them. So, if 2 people hit all 6 numbers, plan on cutting the jackpot in half. This results in the payout odds being half as good! (More like “twice as bad!”)

(Video) How the Lottery Scams Poor People

Lottery Winnings & Taxes

So, how much do you owe in taxes if you win the lottery?Well, a lottery win is considered a “windfall,” which is when you come across a lot of money quickly. Whenever a windfall of money happens, Uncle Sam is the first to know, and he’s going to want a big chunk of it. When you win the lottery, you’re going to owe a lot in taxes.

In fact, what you owe in taxes is even worse if you choose a lump-sum payment. There are a number ofmajor tax benefits of choosing the 30 years of annual payments over a lump sum, but unfortunately over80% of winners opt for one big checkinstead. So, let’s look at the taxes lottery winners must contend on their lump-sum jackpot:

Taxes on lottery winnings:

  1. Federal taxes: When you hit the jackpot, you’re in the highest tax bracket. Lottery winners pay a whopping 37% federal tax on income of more than $500,000
  2. State taxes: Lottery winners also payup to 8.82% state taxon winnings, with the actual tax varying greatly by state. While NJ, MD, NY, and Washington D.C. pay the highest state taxes on winnings, there are 10 states that don’t collect a tax on lottery winnings including: California,Delaware,Florida,New Hampshire,Pennsylvania,South Dakota,Tennessee,Texas,Washington andWyoming.
  3. City Taxes: You thought we were finished? You’re out of luck if you live in New York City, as the Big Apple collects an additional 3.65% tax on lottery winnings!

What’s more, the IRS instantly withholds 25% of lottery earningson winnings of more than $5000, so don’t even think about trying to take the money and run. (Remember that saying about death and taxes?) Being a creepy uncle, Sam will take most of his cut directly from the lottery agency before you can even get your hands on it. The rest of the taxes will be due when you file your tax return.

So, what’s left of a million-dollar win after taxes? Let’s look at how much of that million dollars actually makes it to your bank account.

Taxes on Other “Jackpot” Winnings

The Lottery & Taxes + Why Uncle Sam Is Always the Big Winner (2)

Before moving on, let’s talk about taxes on other jackpot winnings, including a slot machine jackpot at a casino. You’ll need to pay taxes on gambling winnings and file a Form W-2G if any of the following lucky situations apply to you:

(Video) Is Lottery a Tax on the Poor?

  • Slot machine or bingo: Your winnings are $1,200+
  • Keno: Your winnings (reduced by the wager) are $1,500+
  • Poker Tournament: Your winnings (reduced by the wager or buy-in) are more than $5,000
  • Other gambling: Your winnings are$600+ and 300+ times the amount of the wager. (Think horse racing, etc.)

Basically any big gambling win has to be reported on your taxes, and you’ll be giving a big chunk of it back to Uncle Sam, who’s the luckiest guy I know!

A $1 Million Lottery Win After Taxes?

The Lottery & Taxes + Why Uncle Sam Is Always the Big Winner (3)

So, you beat the long-odds and won a million-dollar lottery or slot machine jackpot? Congratulations, but don’t quit your day job just yet, as it’s going to be a lot less than $1 million that hits your bank account, especially if you’re a resident of New York City.

Let’s look at a worst case scenario for what you’ll owe in taxes. Here’s what a $1 million lottery lump-sum payout looks like after taxes in NYC:

  1. $1 million win = $600k lump sum
  2. Minus 37% Federal Tax ($222,000)
  3. Minus 8.82% State tax($52,900)
  4. Minus 3.65% city tax($21,900)
  5. Total winnings = $303,200

Well, you can’t complain about a six-figure win from total luck, but it sure ain’t a million dollars! Based on the math,a lottery winner only keeps about 35 cents of every dollar wonwith a lump-sum payment, depending on the state.

Consider that it takes about $2 million in lottery ticket sales to generate a $1 million dollar” prize. As you can see, the winner only gets a fraction of the total money raised, as most of it goes to the state and federal government and lottery agency. When you look at the math, you can make a good argument that the lottery itself is just another form of taxation.

Also, the windfall of income means you’re no longer eligible to use the TurboTax Free Edition, and you’ll have to pony up at least $40 for tax preparation software. Well, on the bright side, at least you can still use a coupon!

(Video) ACTUALLY Winning The POWERBALL | ONE of the BEST things you can do!

Claiming Lottery or Gambling Winnings (or Losses) on Your Taxes

Any winnings from the lottery or gambling are fully taxable, and should be reported on your individual income tax return. As mentioned, lottery and gambling winnings are considered taxable income, and not capital gains by the IRS.

If your gambling or lottery winnings exceed the amounts above, you’ll receive Tax Form W-2G (Certain Gambling Winnings) from the IRS.

If you win a lottery prize that is payable in annual installments, on your tax return you are required to report both the annual payments and any amount designated as interest on the unpaid installments. Ouch!

If you wish to claim gambling losses on your federal tax return, keep in mind that your gambling losses must be reported separately as itemized deductions, and not subtracted from your winnings.

Final Thoughts

The Lottery & Taxes + Why Uncle Sam Is Always the Big Winner (4)

Many have argued that the lottery’s original mission of funding pressing social needs–education, for example, or initiatives for aiding the poor–continues to miss its mark. The steep taxes winners face on earnings complicate the issue further, turning the lottery into somewhat of a double form of taxation.

In fact, you could say that Uncle Sam is the big winner of every lottery drawing.

(Video) How To ACTUALLY Spend Your Lottery Winnings

Others, skeptical of the lottery’s actual impact on U.S. education budgets, claim that the lottery is merely a “tax on the poor,” as it’s mostly lower-income citizens who buy lottery tickets.

Also consider that 70% of lottery winners end up going broke, so there are a number of compelling reasons not to play the lottery at all!

Yet even so, the allure of a rags-to-riches narrative remains strong. As long as people don’t fully comprehend or care about their 99.99% chance of losing, the masses will line up to buy lottery tickets. But, hey, somebody’s got to win, right?


What would you do if you win the lottery? ›

10 things you can do if you win the lottery
  1. Invest in advice from financial planners. ...
  2. Pay off all your debts. ...
  3. Travel the world. ...
  4. Give your winnings to charity – get a little good karma. ...
  5. 5.Get your business boots on and invest. ...
  6. Treat yourself (smartly) ...
  7. Treat your loved ones (again, smartly) ...
  8. Find you passion.
27 May 2022

Can an LLC claim lottery winnings in California? ›

Using trusts and LLCs

It's common for lottery winners to set up a trust or a limited liability company, LLC, to claim their winnings from.

What should I do if I win the lottery in California? ›

How can I claim my Lottery prize? Collect your prize of up to $599 at any participating Lottery retail location. Collect your prize over $599 at any Lottery District Office or by mail. Bring your winning ticket and a completed Winner Claim Form to a District Office.

Where do I put my money if I win the lottery? ›

9 Smart Ways To Spend Your Powerball Lottery Winnings
  1. Wait to Share the Good News. ...
  2. Take Time to Reflect. ...
  3. Hire Legal & Financial Consultants. ...
  4. Pay off your Debt. ...
  5. Start an Emergency Fund. ...
  6. Set Aside Money for Retirement. ...
  7. Choose Low-risk Investments. ...
  8. Make a Social Impact.

How long does it take to get your money if you win the Powerball? ›

If you elected the cash option or if your prize is only offered in a single payment, your check should arrive approximately six to eight weeks from your claim date. If your prize is to be paid in installments, your first payment should be available within six to eight weeks from your claim date.

Is it actually possible to win the lottery? ›

Your chances of winning the lottery are extremely low. The odds of winning the lottery do not increase by playing frequently. Advertised lottery jackpots are the sum of annuity payments winners receive over decades; the alternative lump-sum payouts are much smaller.

How do you know if you won the lottery? ›

To find out if you've won a Powerball prize, you need to check your numbers. If you are contacted by someone telling you you've won a jackpot, you're dealing with a lottery scam. Many television stations broadcast the Powerball drawings live. You can also check your local newspaper or Google for the results online.

How do you answer why should you win? ›

How to Answer "Why Should You Win This Pageant?"
  1. Talk About What You've Already Done. Do your past accomplishments make you a great candidate for the title? ...
  2. Talk About What You Plan To Do. Do you have special plans for the title? ...
  3. Tell Them What Sets You Apart.

Which is better lump sum or annuity lottery? ›

Winners can choose to receive a one-time lump sum payment or an annuity, with the prize being paid out over 30 years. Most financial experts advise winners take the lump sum, and that's what most winners opt to do.

What kind of trust is best for lottery winnings? ›

A Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is considered the best type of trust to use when multiple individuals are claiming a single prize, such as workplace lottery pools.

Can you hide your identity if you win the lottery? ›

In some states you can remain anonymous, but not all states will block the identity of the winners. Some states will disclose the identity of a winner after a certain period of time and depending on the amount of money won.

Should I move if I win the lottery? ›

Don't Make Major Changes in Your Life. If someone were to ask you what you would do once you become a Powerball winner, you might say, "quit my job" or "buy a mansion." However, experts suggest that you don't make any big moves immediately.

Can I stay anonymous if I win the lottery in California? ›

In California, where disclosure laws require the winner's name be announced by the lottery, keeping your name a secret will not be possible. However, the winner can consult a financial professional before they formally claim the winning ticket, says Brady.

How much tax do you pay on a $1000 lottery ticket in CA? ›

Depending on the state you're in, you may get more taxes on top of that. Luckily in California, there is no state tax on lottery prizes. That would leave you with roughly $408 million.

Can you put millions in a bank? ›

In short, there is no limit on the amount of money that you can put in a savings account. No law limits how much you can save and there's no rule stating that a bank cannot take a deposit if you have a certain amount in your account already.

Where do millionaires keep their money? ›

Mutual funds and stocks are the most common options that some millionaires and billionaires go through first. Once they're in a stable position, they often buy property to diversify their portfolio and increase their wealth through real estate investment.

Can you share your lottery winnings with family? ›

Essentially, there is no limit to the amount of lottery winnings you can gift to a family member. This relates to the general rule that you can gift however much money you like. That said, any amount of money gifted that's above your annual allowances could be subject to inheritance tax.

How do Powerball winners get their money? ›

Whoever wins the Powerball lottery jackpot, or another lottery prize, can choose to receive the payout in one of two ways. They can receive the prize as an annuity, which would be paid in thirty graduated payments over twenty-nine years, or they can receive the prize money in a lump sum payment.

Has anyone won the 1.9 billion Powerball? ›

No one has won the jackpot since Aug. 3. A winner who chooses an annuity, paid annually over 29 years, would get the estimated $1.9 billion payout. Nearly all winners instead opt for cash, which for Monday's drawing would be $929.1 million.

How much do you get if you take the lump sum in Powerball? ›

If the winner chooses to take the one-time payout, they would likely be required to pay the IRS' top federal tax rate of 37%, which amounts to about $368,890,000 taxes, leaving the winner with somewhere in the neighborhood of $628 million. And there are still state and local taxes to be paid.

What are the 5 most common Powerball numbers? ›

There are some numbers that are drawn more frequently than others in Powerball. The five most frequently drawn numbers of all time are 32, 39, 22, 41, 36, and 16, according to the Powerball statistics tracking website

How do I pick my lucky lottery numbers? ›

5 Fun Ways to Find Your Lucky Numbers
  1. Go with Tradition.
  2. Play Your Personal Numbers.
  3. Use Numerology.
  4. Horoscope Lucky Numbers.
  5. Lucky Number Generators.
  6. Go With Your Intuition.
  7. A Warning About Strategies.
26 Jun 2022

What are the most winning lottery numbers? ›

We've limited the numbers to the top five on the list. First Five Numbers: 7 – drawn 16 times, 16% of drawings and 3.2% of draws.
Powerball Number:
  • 18 – drawn 7 times, 7% of drawings.
  • 4 – drawn 6 times, 6% of drawings.
  • 26 – drawn 6 times, 6% of drawings.
  • 5 – drawn 5 times, 5% of drawings.
  • 7 – drawn 5 times, 5% of drawings.
25 Sept 2022

What are the 9 ways to win Powerball? ›

To win, match one of the 9 Ways to Win:
  • 5 white balls + 1 red Powerball = Grand prize.
  • 5 white balls = $1 million.
  • 4 white balls + 1 red Powerball = $50,000.
  • 4 white balls = $100.
  • 3 white balls + 1 red Powerball = $100.
  • 3 white balls = $7.
  • 2 white balls + 1 red Powerball = $7.
  • 1 white ball + 1 red Powerball = $4.
2 days ago

Has anyone won the Mega Millions Yet July 29 2022? ›

July 29, 2022 - $1.337 billion ($780.5 million cash) won by an anonymous partnership with a ticket purchased in Des Plaines, Ill.

How much money do you win if you have 2 Powerball numbers? ›

Powerball prizes: How much for matching numbers

One number and Powerball: $4. Two numbers and Powerball: $7. Three numbers: $7. Three numbers plus Powerball: $100.

Why is winning the most important? ›

Winning brings many benefits for children's development such as an increase in self-esteem, confidence boost and strategic thinking skills. With winning at all costs however the experience that children have in sport is often inhibited by well-intentioned adults and it becomes very unenjoyable.

What is your weakness best answer? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

Is it better to take lump sum or payout Powerball? ›

Taking the lump sum may give the winner control, but can sometimes overwhelm the winner,” says Michael Liersch, head of the advice and planning for Wells Fargo. “Taking the annuity can help spread the winnings over a longer period of time, helping the winner adapt to newfound wealth.”

How much does a $1000000 annuity pay per month? ›

How much does a $1,000,000 annuity pay per month? A $1,000,000 annuity would pay you approximately $5,083 each month for the rest of your life if you purchased the annuity at age 60 and began taking payments immediately.

What happens if no one wins Powerball? ›

If no one wins the jackpot in Saturday's drawing, it will tie the game record for the number of consecutive drawings without a grand prize winner. The longest jackpot run in Powerball history ended on Oct. 4, 2021, when a ticket in California won a $699.8 million jackpot on the 41st drawing.

Does lottery winnings affect Social Security? ›

Income affects your Social Security retirement benefits in the form of taxes. For example: Do gambling or lottery winnings affect Social Security retirement benefits? Yes. The SSA considers gambling and lottery winnings unearned income and, therefore, it must be reported to the IRS.

How do I keep my lottery winnings private? ›

If you are hoping to stay as incognito as long as possible regarding your wins, there are a few things you can do: First, only disclose the bare minimum amount of information required by law. Don't provide too many details of your story to the California Lottery and don't agree to participate in any optional photo ops.

Who is the best lottery lawyer? ›

In many situations, that's where the self-proclaimed "lottery lawyer" Kurt Panouses comes in. He has helped more than 30 jackpot winners, including the Michigan group which split a more than $1 billion Mega Millions prize in March 2021.

Is there a secret to playing the lottery? ›

Pick different numbers without following a pattern.

Since lotteries pull from a range of numbers, those patterns aren't likely to show up on the winning ticket. Instead, come up with a range of numbers you like. If they look random on paper, then you're on the right track.

Should you tell anyone you won the lottery? ›

Don't announce to strangers or extended friends and family that you've won — at least not right away.” Keeping things private will help you avoid being bombarded with requests for money or unsolicited advice on how to use your earnings.

What increases your chances of winning the lottery? ›

Buy Extra Tickets for the Same Game

If you try to up your odds by buying 10 tickets, that increases your odds of winning the lottery to 10 in 292 million (or 1 in 29.2 million).

How much do you get if you win 1.9 billion lottery? ›

There are two payout options to choose between: The full jackpot amount spread out over 30 years as an annual payment, or a lesser amount of $934.8 million as an upfront lump sum payment, according to Powerball.

How much money will the Powerball winner take home? ›

If the winner chooses the lump sum, they will walk away with $997.6 million before taxes, according to the Powerball, although they'll owe the IRS a mandatory 24% federal tax withholding of $239.4 million, leaving them with $758.2 million.

How long after winning the lottery do you get the money in California? ›

Congrats on winning! To collect your prize, just follow the simple claim process for the type of prize you won. After your claim is processed at Lottery Headquarters in Sacramento, you'll receive a check in the mail in about 7 to 9 weeks.

What states have no tax on lottery winnings? ›

The winner's state may want a piece of the pie, too. Residents of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming are off the hook because those states have no income taxes. (Alaska and Nevada don't sell Mega Millions tickets, but residents can buy them out-of-state.)

How much would you get if you won 100 million dollars? ›

Mega Million Annuity Payments

Each payment grows in size by 5% from the preceding year, which helps protect against inflation. If someone wins the jackpot of $100 million, they will receive about $1.5 million immediately, and then future annual payments would increase up to about $6.2 million.

What is the tax on 2 million dollars? ›

Once you make $2 million, average tax rates start to decrease. The average tax rate peaks at 25.1 percent for those making between $1.5 million and $2 million. After that it starts to go down, and falls to 20.7 percent for those making $10 million or more.

What will you do if you get 1 million dollars interview question? ›

Be honest

For example, if you won millions of dollars in the lottery, you may take some time off work to travel or be with family. Explain how you might do this while reassuring the interviewer of your desire to continue in your role with the company. Balance honesty with positivity when answering this question.

What would you do if you were given a million dollars essay? ›

If I get a million dollars, I would be planning for better education, ensuring to get a house for my parents, donating some amount for charity, helping poor and needy with that money, helping my family to meet their needs, and also save some money for the sake of future.

How much taxes do you pay if you win 1 million dollars? ›

You must pay federal income tax if you win

You'll fall into the highest tax bracket in the year you win if you take the jackpot in a lump sum. As of 2022, this means you'll likely owe the IRS at least 37% in taxes.

What would you do if you had a million dollars quote? ›

Quotes. Peter Gibbons : What would you do if you had a million dollars? Lawrence : I'll tell you what I'd do, man: two chicks at the same time, man.

What job gives you 1 million dollars a year? ›

Some options include healthcare, certain fields of law, real estate development and finance. Each industry and career path is likely to have steps that lead to advancement opportunities that further increase earnings.

Can I stop working with 1 million dollars? ›

Yes, you can retire at 55 with one million dollars. You will receive a guaranteed annual income of $56,250 immediately and for the rest of your life. This income will stay the same and never decrease.

How hard is it to make $1 million? ›

Even for those highly disciplined few who can save $10,000 or $15,000 a year, that would take over 66 years to build $1 million with no interest or compounding. But as people advance in age and experience, the picture changes.

How do you spend your millions wisely? ›

7 Tips For Spending Money Wisely
  1. Track Your Finances. ...
  2. Think About the Long-Term Benefits and Drawbacks of Purchases. ...
  3. Only Put Money on Your Credit Card if You Can Afford to Pay it off Each Month. ...
  4. Stop Trying to Impress Other People. ...
  5. Figure out What Habits Drain Your Budget. ...
  6. Learn to Value Savings Over Products.

What would you do if you got $1000? ›

10 Smart Ways to Spend $1,000
  1. Spend the money.
  2. Pay down credit card debt.
  3. Pay down student loan debt.
  4. Contribute to your 401(k), Roth IRA or other retirement account.
  5. Make home repairs.
  6. Invest in yourself.
  7. Open a 529 account.
  8. Refinance your home.

Is paying someone to write an essay cheating? ›

Paying someone to write your paper, whether it's a fellow student or an essay mill, is a form of plagiarism and is usually considered one of the most serious by teachers and administrators alike.

Is it better to take lump sum or annuity lottery? ›

Winners can choose to receive a one-time lump sum payment or an annuity, with the prize being paid out over 30 years. Most financial experts advise winners take the lump sum, and that's what most winners opt to do.

How does the IRS know if you give a gift? ›

Filing Form 709: First, the IRS primarily finds out about gifts if you report them using Form 709. As a requirement, gifts exceeding $15,000 must be reported on this form.

Can you legally give someone a million dollars? ›

Most taxpayers won't ever pay gift tax because the IRS allows you to gift up to $12.06 million (as of 2022) over your lifetime without having to pay gift tax. This is the lifetime gift tax exemption, and it's up from $11.7 million in 2021.

What would I lose if I lost a million dollars? ›

Jim Paul's meteoric rise took him from a small town in Northern Kentucky to governor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, yet he lost it all—his fortune, his reputation, and his job—in one fatal attack of excessive economic hubris.

What to do when you get a 100 million dollars? ›

9 crazy things you could do with $100 million
  1. You could buy a waterfront palace in Sydney. Sydney Mum: you could blow it all in one fell swoop. ...
  2. Or a private jet. ...
  3. Bankroll a movie. ...
  4. Take a visit to SPACE. ...
  5. Help solve world hunger. ...
  6. Stay at the world's most luxurious hotel for 18 years. ...
  7. What about a yacht? ...
  8. Buy a private island.
17 Jan 2019


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