Must Professional Gamblers Pay Tax on Wins?Published October 21, 2012 by OCR Editor
Gambling for a living may mean paying tax on winnings
If you're doing well enough at cards or gambling to consider going professional, or perhaps you already are a professional gambler - congratulations; you're living the dream. Now you need consult a reliable accountant. Why? One reason is that you may need an accountant to take care of any tax payments due on your gambling income. Also, when you become self-employed, having an accountant gives you a lot of peace of mind. Remember - tax regulations for professional gamblers vary from country to country. The only guaranteed source of official and correct information is your national tax authority.
Online Versus Offline Gambling Income
Many professional gamblers, such as pro poker players, make a living by playing on and offline. Therefore for tax purposes there may be no distinction between income made by playing online poker or money you make playing at a real-life table in a tournament. Again, this is something your accountant would be responsible for determining in accordance with the tax laws in your country.
Tax on Winnings
It appears that some countries make a distinction between gambling winnings and income through your role as a professional gambler. If the difference seems blurry, that's because it is. In the UK for example, gambling itself is not considered a trade or business. Therefore the money you win at the end of a night of online poker may well not be subject to tax.
However, UK law also indicates that decisions on tax payments for professional gamblers might be made based on the individual circumstances of each player. Therefore there may be different tax outcomes when the rules are applied to different gamblers.
Tax on Gambling-Related Income
The idea of gambling-related income applies mainly to pro poker players, for example, who make money through celebrity appearances at events or on TV. This type of activity in relation to gambling is more likely to be considered a trade or business, and money made this way may be taxed. Once again, we can't stress enough how important it is to consult a qualified accountant and/or your national tax authorities.