Is A Tax Amnesty Needed for Online Poker Players

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On April 15th founder of the three largest on-line poker sites, PokerStars.com, Fulltiltpoker.com and AbsolutePoker.com were indicted. The case is filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of NY. It is case no. S3 10CR336. A parallel civil forfeiture case was filed against the poker companies in the same court. It is case no 11 civ 2564. The cases are in a very early stage, but the ultimate effect on the players may be serious. First, there were funds on deposit in at least 76 banks that are the subject of restraining orders. The funds may be the property of the players or the sites, that is yet to be determined. If the sites are found to be the owners of the funds then no funds are likely to be released in the short to near term.

The U.S. Attorney and two of the sites entered into an agreement that would allow the players to withdraw funds on deposit, but no time line has been set and all actions of the sites are going to be supervised by a “monitor”. Which brings us to the following questions.

Will the sites be required to collect information on players and turn it over to the U.S. authorities? If so, just what information? Will it include the same level of information on players that the Frank Bill, pending in the Congress would require? That information would include, name, address, deposit and withdrawal history and remaining fund balance? If so, will this information be delivered to the IRS and state taxing authorities? The possibility of a turn-over at some stage in the cases should not be ruled out. In such event, there will likely be a substantial amount of data produced which will need to be sorted for audit.

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