$10 Million in WSOP 2015 Taxes Goes to IRS and State and Local Outfits

November 13th, 2015 | by Brian Corlisse
Joe McKeehen WSOP win IRS

IRS super win: this year’s WSOP Main Event winner, Joe McKeehen, will have to give away more than $3 million in tax payments. (Image: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

The IRS, also known as the Internal Revenue Service to every tax-paying American citizen, is watching you.

Especially if you just took down millions in the recently wrapped up 2015 World Series of Poker. Sadly for this week’s big winners, the biggest winner of all is the federal tax agency itself, with some state and local tax authorities also cleaning up on the backs of the event’s talented winners.

Main Event champion Joe McKeehen may have dominated the three-day November Nine playoffs, but he won’t be able to bluff the long arm of the law.

And although McKeehen will likely use his new-found bankroll to fund many more successful poker ventures, his massive $7,683,346 win wasn’t enough to eclipse the IRS’s cut of the prizepool. Nor will he be able to keep a sizable chunk of it.

The Tax Man Cometh

Following the conclusion of the Main Event on Tuesday, financial analysis site taxabletalk.com analyzed the tax liability of the Americans who made this year’s final table and, according to the numbers, the IRS collected $8,467,091. That’s almost $1,000,000 more than McKeehen was handed for his final table performance.

Looking further into the taxable earnings of this year’s November Nine, all but one of the players will lose some of their prize money. Owing to his status as a Belgian national and his country’s tax treaty with the US, Neuville won’t have to give away any of his $1,203,293 seventh place prize.

In contrast, Joe McKeehen will be liable for a tax bill amounting to $3,385,952. After paying federal income tax and self-employment tax ($3,073,240), state income tax to his home state of Pennsylvania ($235,879) and a final levy to his local township of North Wales Boro, McKeehen will be left with $4,297,394.

Butteroni Biggest Loser

While the IRS will be taking a large chunk of money from this year’s American finalists, a number of other governments will also be earning some extra cash. Taking the largest slice of any individual prize according to taxabletalk.com will be the Italian government.

Under the laws of the land, Italy’s tax authority, Agenzia delle Entrate, collects a tax levy equal to 47.90 percent for any gambling winnings claimed in a non-European country.

Because of this, Federico Butteroni will have to relinquish $525,490 of his $1,097,056 eight place prize. Ouch.

In total, tax agencies around the world stand to benefit from cash injections amounting to $10,080,122 or, in percentage terms, 42.95 percent of the total prize money ($24,806,976) won at the 2015 WSOP Main Event final table.

Who’s Left with What

To give you a better idea of how this year’s tax levies stack up and how that affects the overall standings in terms of pure earnings, taxabletalk.com has compiled a handy table.

The most interesting point of note is Neuville’s jump financially from seventh to fifth place, thanks to his tax exemption.

Winners’ Before-and-After Tax Collection Prize Money Takeaways  

  1. Joe McKeehen $7,683,346 down to $4,297,394
  2. Joshua Beckley $4,470,896 down to $2,389,177
  3. Neil Blumenfield $3,398,298 down to $1,805,764
  4. Max Steinberg $2,615,361 down to $1,543,306
  5. Pierre Neuville $1,203,293 (unchanged, moves his win to de facto 5th place)
  6. Ofer Zvi Stern $1,911,423 down to $1,011,317
  7. Thomas Cannuli $1,426,283 down to $785,996
  8. Federico Butteroni $1,097,056 down to $571,566
  9. Patrick Chan $1,001,020 down to $545,614

All Player Totals $24,806,976 down to $14,153,427


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