Wisconsin Powerball winner faces massive tax tab: A look at the actual jackpot value

By Personal FinanceFOXBusiness

$768 million Powerball jackpot ticket sold in Wisconsin

A winning ticket for the $768.4 million Powerball jackpot was sold in Wisconsin, lottery officials confirmed early Thursday morning.

One lucky person in Wisconsin matched all six numbers during Wednesday night’s Powerball drawing, to win $768.4 million.

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That is the third largest jackpot in U.S. history.

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Unlike the winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot earlier this year in South Carolina, Wisconsin law prevents winners from remaining anonymous. But either way, the IRS was coming for a chunk of the change.

The winning individual is faced with two options – either take the money in the form of a lump sum or an annuity payment – which would be paid out over the course of about 30 years.

In the case of the annuity payment – the less common option – a winner would receive one immediate payment and 29 consecutive ones. The amount paid increases by 5 percent each year, according to K. Eli Akhavan, partner and chair of the Private Client and Wealth Preservation Group at CKR Law.

However, if the prize is taken in the form of a lump sum, it would be valued at about $477 million. About $114.5 million will be immediately withheld in federal taxes, bringing the amount down to around $362.5 million.

The IRS will also likely tax the winnings at the highest federal income bracket, which now sits at 37 percent for individuals with incomes in excess of $500,000. You would owe any difference left over between that tax rate (37 percent) and the federal withholding rate (24 percent) when you file your tax return at the end of the year – or 13 percent. In this case that shaves off another $62 million.

Depending on where the winner lives, the jackpot could also be subject to state taxes, with amounts that range from 0 percent to 8.82 percent.

In Wisconsin, the state is expected to take a tax bite equal to 7.65 percent (the top tax rate). That will deduct another $36.5 million.

That brings the overall tax tab up to about $213 million. From the lump sum value of $477 million, this would mean the take home pay is around $264 million.

Winnings are not subject to the 3.8 percent net investment income tax.

If the winner plans on giving money away, under current law he or she is allowed to give up to $15,000 to as many people as desired without tax consequences.

Akhavan advised any lottery winners to retain an attorney to help with asset protection.

“I frequently advise my clients on the use of sophisticated trusts and other techniques to ensure maximum protection,” he said. “A financial adviser should be selected to help prudently invest these assets. We here all too often about lotto winners whose funds are mismanaged and they end up squandering their fortune.”

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Wednesday’s original lottery prize was estimated at $750 million – but after Americans went out to purchase tickets in droves, the jackpot increased to an estimated $768.4 million.

On Saturday, the Powerball drawing resets to $40 million.