If you've lost your IRS Form W-2G, you can get a copy from the gambling establishment that gave it to you. Alternatively, you can ask the IRS to send you a copy. The gambling establishment sent a copy of the W-2G to the IRS to report the money it withheld from your winnings.
The IRS W-2G Form
You use Form W-2G to report certain gambling winnings. When you gamble and win more than a threshold amount – which varies according to the specific gambling activity – the casino or another gambling establishment deducts from your winnings an IRS-prescribed withholding amount. It forwards this to the IRS along with Form W-2G and sends another copy to you.
A variety of thresholds trigger the withholding and production of a W-2G:
- Slot machine and bingo winnings of $1,200 or more
- Keno winnings of $1,500 or more
- Tournament poker winnings of $5,000 or more
- Winnings of $600 or more from a sweepstakes, lottery or other gambling activity not listed above when you've won at least 300 times what you've wagered
When You Lose Your Copy of Form W-2G
Remember that the IRS has almost certainly received a copy of your W-2G from the gambling establishment. That being so, the first thing to do when you've lost your copy of the W-2G is to get in touch with the establishment that first gave it to you and ask for another one.
If that doesn't work, you can also contact the IRS and ask for a copy. If it's tax time and the filing date is fast approaching, you can always file without the form, being sure, of course, to accurately report your winnings. Sometimes, you'll get a letter from the IRS asking you to report the amount. Remember that the IRS has the copy in its system as the gambling establishment sent them the W-2G. When this happens, it's not a problem. Simply write back and explain that although you've lost the form, you did correctly report the winnings on your return.
How Much Does the Casino Withhold?
Usually a gambling establishment withholds 25 percent of what you've won. If you don't have a Social Security number or you fail to provide the establishment with one, it will withhold 28 percent instead.
This may or may not be what you actually owe. High-earners may owe more because of their tax bracket; gambling winnings are simply another component of taxable income. If, for example, your other income already puts you in the highest tax bracket, the gambling winnings add to that and become subject to the highest percentage rate.
Sometimes you may owe less than the 25 percent amount withheld. You can read more about this in IRS Topic 419, "Gambling Income and Losses" (see Resources).
One important thing to keep in mind is that gambling winnings are always net of costs. If, for instance, you bought $3,000 worth of chips and walked away from the table with $6,500, your winnings total only $3,500.
- Internal Revenue Service: Topic 419 – Gambling Income and Losses
- Internal Revenue Service: Publication 529: Miscellaneous Deductions
- Internal Revenue Service: Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings
- TurboTax: Guide to IRS Form W-2G Certain Gambling Winnings
- The Motley Fool: IRS Tax Brackets 2016: What You Need to Know
I am a retired Registered Investment Advisor with 12 years experience as head of an investment management firm. I also have a Ph.D. in English and have written more than 4,000 articles for regional and national publications.