Personal Finance

Winning ticket for Powerball's $366.7 million jackpot sold in Vermont. Here's the tax bite for the winner

Key Points
  • A ticket sold in Vermont matched all six numbers drawn Wednesday night in Powerball.
  • The cash option — which most jackpot winners choose instead of an annuity — is $208.5 million.
  • Both federal and state taxes will be withheld, and more would likely be due at tax time.
Justin Sullivan / Getty

If you're holding the winning ticket for Powerball's $366.7 million jackpot, don't forget about your silent partner: Uncle Sam.

After rolling higher for about two months of three weekly drawings with no winner, the lottery game's top prize was nabbed in Wednesday night's drawing. The ticket was purchased in Vermont, which marks the first time the jackpot has been won in that state. 

Of course, the advertised amount isn't what the winner will end up with. Whether the prize is taken as an annuity of 30 payments over 29 years or as an immediate, reduced cash lump sum, taxes end up taking a big bite out of the windfall.

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For this jackpot, a required federal tax withholding of 24% would reduce the $208.5 million cash option — which most jackpot winners choose — by about $50 million.

More tax likely due after initial federal withholding

However, the top federal marginal tax rate is 37%, which applies to income above $523,600. In other words, there likely would be additional taxes due at tax time. For illustration purposes: If the winner had no reduction in income — for example, significant charitable contributions from the winnings — another 13%, or $27.1 million, would be due to the IRS ($77.1 million in all).

What to do if you win the lottery
What to do if you win the lottery

There also would be a 6% Vermont state tax withholding, which would mean $12.5 million going to state coffers right off the bat, with more generally due (the state's top rate is 8.75%).

Odds of a Powerball jackpot win: about 1 in 292 million

The winner gets one year to claim the prize, and may be able to stay anonymous by claiming the money via a trust. It's recommended that jackpot winners assemble a team of professionals to help navigate the claiming process, including an attorney, financial advisor and tax advisor.

Sometimes lottery prizes go unclaimed. In fact, a $1 million Mega Millions prize expires Thursday at 5 p.m.

The Powerball jackpot has reset to $20 million for the next drawing, which is scheduled for for Saturday night. The Mega Millions jackpot, meanwhile, stands at $360 million ($199.3 million cash option) for Friday night's pull.

The chance of a single ticket matching all six numbers drawn in Powerball is about 1 in 292 million. For Mega Millions, it's 1 in 302 million.