If Owing Back Taxes or Child Support, Will the Government Take Lottery Winnings to Pay for It?

by Pamela Gardapee, Demand Media

    Lottery winnings valued at $600 or more after the cost of the ticket is deducted are reported to the Internal Revenue (IRS) on Form W-2G (which you'll receive a copy of as well). You must report this as income on your federal tax return. Under certain circumstances, you may need to pay federal tax, state and local taxes (depending on your state), back taxes and child support arrears.

    Federal and State Tax

    Before you receive any winnings from the lottery, money is deducted to pay federal, state and local taxes, if any, on the total amount of the winnings over what your state has set in place. For instance, Michigan and Wisconsin don’t withhold federal or state taxes on any winnings under $5,000. However, if your winnings are $5,000 or more, Michigan withholds 4.35 percent for state and 25 percent for federal tax. Although the lottery withholds this percentage of money, when you file your tax return at the end of the year, you may need to pay additional tax on the money depending on your total income and tax liability.

    Federal and State Tax Arrears

    Federal and state governments will place a tax lien against you if you owe any back taxes, even if you are paying on the arrears owed through payroll deduction or another way. This is called a tax lien intercept. When your name is on the list, any winnings from the lottery will bring up a flag for the lottery agency, alerting it the government has a tax lien on your winnings. The lottery agency will deduct the taxes from the winnings and send the remainder to the federal and state governments to pay off the tax arrears. If the amount of the lien is less than the amount of lottery winnings you have coming, you will receive the amount due after the tax liens are paid in full, unless you have other obligations that have a lien on your winnings.

    Child Support Arrears

    Child support arrears are deducted from your lottery winnings after all taxes and tax liens have been satisfied. Some states do have a minimum amount of winnings set forth before child support arrears can be collected. For instance, in Wisconsin, you must win at least $1,000 or more in the lottery before the child support agency will take any money for arrears. In Florida, the lottery winnings only need to be $600 or more.

    Paying Child Support

    When you win the lottery, the money is considered income that the child support agency can take a certain percentage of towards your child support obligation. For instance, if you win $10,000 and you have one child, the agency will take a percentage of that money to give to the legal guardian of your child. In Wisconsin, if you have one child, the percentage of your income that goes for the child support of one child is 17 percent. After you pay any liens put on the lottery winnings from government agencies, the remaining amount is subject to reduction for child support.

    About the Author

    Pamela Gardapee is a writer with more than seven years experience writing Web content. Being functional in finances, home projects and computers has allowed Gardapee to give her readers valuable information. She studied accounting, computers and writing before offering her tax, computer and writing services to others.