An understanding IRS wants to lessen record-keeping disputes with gamblers singled out for audit. To help them with their bookkeeping, the IRS provides guidelines that spell out what sort of records and other substantiation are acceptable.
The IRS recommends that bettors record their winnings and losses in "an accurate diary or similar record" — the identical method that the agency encourages businesspeople to use to keep tabs on their travel-and-entertainment expenditures. But keeping diaries can turn out to be a waste of time and effort for gamblers when their entries fail to show the information called for by the guidelines.
To be on the safe side, bettors should make certain that their diaries contain at least the following:
- Dates and types of specific wagers or wagering activities;
- Names and addresses or locations of the gambling establishments;
- Names of other persons, if any, present with the bettors at the gambling places; and
- Amounts won or lost.
The best way to keep diaries: Gamblers should develop the habit of recording bets when they’re made. It's tough to try to compile a diary at filing time. And one that's not prepared until just before a taxpayer shows up for an audit is bound to be unacceptable.
About Julian Block
Attorney and author Julian Block is frequently quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He has been cited as “a leading tax professional” (New York Times), an “accomplished writer on taxes” (Wall Street Journal), and “an authority on tax planning” (Financial Planning magazine). More information about his books can be found at julianblocktaxexpert.com.