By Candice Choi, AP Personal Finance Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Clinching the office pool for March Madness entitles you to a pot of money and gloating rights. And nobody can take that away from you, except maybe the IRS.
Even if your winnings seem like chump change, any money you pocket from gambling is considered taxable income. It's not likely that the Internal Revenue Service will come after you for your NCAA pot, but there are times when reporting even casual winnings becomes more formal.
Depending on how often you frequent casinos or buy lottery tickets, you might also want to think about keeping a log of your gambling habit.
Regardless of whether you come out a winner, some points to remember when it comes time to file.
WHEN WINNINGS GET REPORTED
Casinos, race tracks and other gambling operators are required to document winnings once they reach a certain threshold.
With slot machines and bingo, for example, casinos report any single payout of $1,200 or more to the IRS. For keno, it's $1,500 and $5,000 for poker tournaments.For horse racing and lottery tickets, winnings of $600 and above are reported when they're more than 300 times the amount of the bet.
If you're lucky enough to find yourself in any of the above scenarios, you'll be asked for your Social Security number by the venue so your winnings can be reported. You'll also get a copy of the W-2G form documenting the payment before you walk away.
You may not leave with all your winnings either. Depending on the size and type of bet, the standard 25% federal income tax may be deducted from your winnings on the spot. You can also request a deduction for your state income tax, which will vary depending on where you live.