Tax Treatment of Gambling Loss as in Tschetschot Case

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In Tschetschot v. Commissioner, 93 TCM 914 (2007), the tax court ruled that taxpayer’s losses from participating in tournament poker were limited to the amount of her winnings. The court held that tournament poker is, despite its differences from other types of poker, essentially a wagering activity and therefore should not be treated differently from other forms of gambling for tax purposes. The court also rejected the taxpayer’s equal protection argument to treat tournament poker as sports, on the basis of the policy decisions of the congress to treat business based on wagering activities differently.

Gambling is becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. Major casinos and online gambling sites attract
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The facts in Tschetschot were quite simple, and there was not any dispute regarding them. It is nevertheless helpful to single out the facts that are more relevant to the issue on hand, which would help in following the court’s reasoning in reaching its holdings.
Mrs. Tschetschot works as a database project manager, and was also a professional tournament poker player in 2000. She then claimed a net loss from her tournament poker activity as business losses on her Schedule C. The commissioner determined that this deduction related to the tournament poker should be subject to the limitation provided in Code §165(d) as an itemized deduction, to the extent of the Mrs. Tschetschot’s winnings. Based on that, the commissioner assessed a deficiency of income tax as well as an accuracy-related penalty under Code §6662(a).
The tax court ruled in favor of the commissioner, rejecting the petitioner’s argument that “tournament poker, unlike other types of poker, is not a wagering activity.” The court reached its decision by first defining the term “wagering” using the term’s “plain, obvious, and rational meaning.” Therefore, the court adopted the dictionary meaning of “to wager,” which is defined as “to bet” or “the act of betting.” Based on this, the court concluded that “while there are differences between tournament poker and other types of poker, none rise to the level of meaningful, substantive differences that would warrant different tax treatment under the

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