With no one hitting all six winning numbers in Powerball’s Wednesday night drawing, the top prize has climbed to $625 million, making it the seventh-biggest jackpot in U.S. lottery history.
And while players daydream about what they’d do with a windfall of that size, they should remember that they wouldn’t really end up with the advertised amount.
Whether the winner takes their prize as an annuity spread out over three decades or as an immediate reduced lump sum, lottery officials are required to withhold 24 percent for federal taxes.
However, the top federal tax rate of 37 percent means the winner would owe a lot more at tax time. And there also typically are state taxes due as well.
“The big impact on winnings is taxes,” said certified financial planner Dan Routh, a wealth advisor at Exencial Wealth Advisors in Oklahoma City. “If you win, just realize how big the tax bill can be and make sure you’re ready to handle it.”
With the odds stacked against players hitting the jackpot — your chance is about 1 in 292 million — the Powerball jackpot has been growing since late December.
For Saturday night’s drawing, the cash option — which most winners go with — is $380.6 million. The 24 percent federal withholding would reduce that amount by $91.3 million.
Assuming the winner had no reduction to their taxable income — such as large charitable contributions made from their winnings — another 13 percent, or $49.5 million, would be due to the IRS ($140.8 million in all).
That would leave the winner with $239.8 million before state taxes. That levy ranges from zero to more than 8 percent, depending on where the ticket was purchased and where the winner lives. In other words, the winner could end up paying more than 45 percent in taxes.
Given the sheer size of the jackpot, experts say it’s important that the eventual winner assemble a team of experienced professionals to help navigate the windfall: an attorney, a tax advisor and a financial advisor.
“There’s a big responsibility that goes with having such a large some of money,” Routh said. “It would be important to surround yourself with a quality team that’s working in your best interest.”
So the question is, if you win, what would you do?