Gambling Loss Deductions Broadened Under New Tax Law

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The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminates or scales back certain itemized deductions, including the deduction for miscellaneous expenses subject to the floor of 2 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).

However, deductions for certain other miscellaneous expenses have been spared. For instance, you can continue to deduct gambling losses, up to the amount of winnings, on 2017 returns and beyond.

The TCJA did, however, modify the gambling loss deduction, beginning in 2018. For this purpose, the definition of gambling losses has been broadened to include other expenses incurred in gambling activities, such as travel back and forth from a casino or track.

Let’s recap the basic rules. For starters, you can only deduct losses up to the amount of your winnings, so any excess loss can’t offset other highly taxed income. Conversely, you might show a taxable profit. Suppose you have annual gambling winnings of $10,000 for 2017 and losses of $2,500.

As a result, you can deduct $2,500, but you’re taxed on the $7,500 difference. If you incurred $5,000 in losses and have zero winnings, you get no deduction at all. The best you can hope to do tax-wise on your 2017 return is to break even.

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About Ken Berry

Ken Berry

Ken Berry, Esq., is a nationally known writer and editor specializing in tax, financial, and legal matters. During his long career, he has served as managing editor of a publisher of content-based marketing tools and vice president of an online continuing education company. As a freelance writer, Ken has authored thousands of articles for a wide variety of newsletters, magazines, and other periodicals.           

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