football nachosFor any football fan, football season is the most wonderful time of year. It means Sunday afternoons spent with the guys eating indulgent foods like wings, ribs, nachos, meatballs, pizzas and more. It also means big tailgaters at the games for those fortunate enough to make it to the stadium. Finally, it means fantasy football, office football pools, Super Bowl grids with the occasional trip to Las Vegas thrown in. But, taxes? Not too many football fans will have the tax man on their mind come kickoff time. However, as the football season winds to a close, all of the football related gambling might mean you will need to settle up with the government. You may not think much of it, but your office football pools, impromptu trips to Vegas, Fantasy football and Super Bowl grids may boil down to gambling in the eyes of the IRS. Sure it is fun and you probably could not get through life without the hype, excitement and anticipation of the season, but it may cost you. The harsh reality is that your gambling winnings, no matter how big or small are taxable on your personal tax return (1040). You are required to report all winnings you receive in the year. Winnings can include both cash or prizes. For prizes you would need to look up the market value. If you win big, you will generally receive a form called a W2-G from the casino or other gambling venue. The good news is that you can deduct your losses from your gambling winnings. There is a catch, your deduction of losses cannot be larger than your winnings. So, even if you won $5,000 and lost $5,500, you can only deduct the $5,000. Finally, keep in mind that the extra $500 in losses can’t be transferred over to the next year. Therefore, as you enjoy the excitement and memorable moments of the National Football League’s 93rd season and cheer on your favorite team in the lead up to February 3, 2013 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII, you should keep the tax man in the back of your mind. Do not let it dampen your fun, but do keep accurate notes of your winnings and losses for the season. It is not hard if you are diligent about keeping records as the season plays out. If you put it off until the end of the season, you may feel as beaten down and muddy as the backfield as you stumble through figuring out your taxes for the year. Taxes may not be the first thing that comes to mind as you watch the kickoff, but you do need to keep them in mind as you celebrate the highs and lows of the season with your buddies and coworkers. While gambling casually is a fun way to get into the season, it can be time consuming come tax time if you have been lax about keeping records. Play it safe and keep records as you go along. Do not worry, you can wait until the guys leave before you pull out your little book to take a few notes. Learn more about gambling income and losses at the IRS website here, or watch their video.