IRS Allows Breathing Room For Slot Players

A little good news from the Revenooers this week, for those of you who indulge in slot machine play.  Here comes a proposed Revenue Procedure which, if finalized, would allow you to use an optional “safe harbor” in determining your wagering gains and losses.

Longstanding IRS regulations say that gains from wagering transactions are included in your gross income.  Sounds simple enough, but unfortunately neither the actual statute nor the IRS regs define the term “transactions.”  Whoops.  Makes it tough for you follow the rules which allow your losses from wagering “transactions” to the extent of gains from such “transactions.”

To reduce the burden on taxpayers (which IRS will always tell you is high on their list), this proposed Revenue Procedure will provide an optional safe harbor method for you to determine what constitutes a “session of play” for purposes of computing wagering gains and losses from electronically tracked slot machine play.

And as you track those losses, and feel like drowning your sorrows, cheer up with the knowledge that your old friend, Lois Lerner (you do remember Lois, don’t you) has been doing such a fine job for the Revenooers that she received over $129,000 in bonuses between 2010 and 2013.

Seems former acting IRS Commish, Stephen T. “Curley” Miller thought pretty highly of Lois, in writing that “Ms. Lerner is eligible for retirement and as an attorney with extensive experience would likely command a much greater pay and benefits if she left the Service….Without a retention incentive she will leave the Service.”

Of course, she didn’t, and seems to have been missing in action since her plea of the 5th before Congress a couple of years ago.  Recall that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report in mid-2013 which found that the IRS “used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.”

The Washington Free Beacon reminds us that Miller resigned the day after release of the TIGTA report, followed soon thereafter by the resignation of Joseph Grant, deputy commissioner of the tax exempt division.

And finally this week, as the deadline looms for the filing of your 2014 tax returns, beware if you’re a Californian, and one of the unfortunate folks who lost your residence in 2014 due to a foreclosure or similar transaction.  Recall that the Federal law which had provided for exclusion of “cancellation of indebtedness” income in such situations was extended in the last minute Congressional tax action in 2014.  California, however, hasn’t yet conformed, and who knows if/when they will?

CONSULT YOUR TAX ADVISOR – This article contains general information about various tax matters.  You should consult your CPA regarding the implications to your own particular situation.

Jeff Quinn, the author of this article, is a shareholder in Ashley Quinn, CPAs and Consultants, Ltd., with offices in Incline Village and Reno.  He may be reached at 831-7288, welcomes comments at jquinn@ashleyquinncpas.com, and invites readers to consider his other commentary at http://blog.nolo.com/taxes.

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