Report: 2016 WSOP November Nine Finalists to Pay over $10m in Taxes

Now that the new world champion of poker has been crowned, its time to take a look who were the real winners of the World Series of Poker.

According to Taxable Talk, the biggest winner of the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event was actually Uncle Sam. The site has listed winnings for each November Nine finalist after taxes, and according to those calculations Uncle Sam will be taking just over $8,1 million from the U.S players at the final table.

The total combined tax amount for all November Nine finalists is a whopping $10,109,760. It looks like, that the runner-up Gordon Vayo will have to pay the biggest tax ( 51,46% of his winnings), while 6th place finisher Kenny Hallaert will not have to pay anything to Belgian tax officials:

Congratulations to Qui Nguyen of Las Vegas for winning the 2016 World Series of Poker Main Event. Mr. Nguyen won $8,005,310 for the victory. Mr. Nguyen defeated second place finisher Gordon Vayo after a grueling eight hour heads-up battle. Mr. Nguyen is a professional gambler, combining poker playing with baccarat; he’ll owe self-employment tax and federal income tax; because Mr. Nguyen resides in Nevada he doesn’t have to pay state income tax. I estimate Mr. Nguyen will lose only 41.51% of his win ($3,323,157) to tax. That’s the second-lowest tax hit of any of the Americans at the final table.

Gordon Vayo of San Francisco was in some ways the biggest loser. Yes, he finished in second place and earned $4,661,228. However, that was before taxes. Mr. Vayo may have left his heart in San Francisco, but because he resides there he’s leaving a lot of money to California’s Franchise Tax Board. Indeed, Mr. Vayo is losing an estimated 51.46% of his winnings to federal and state tax ($2,398,800); his net winnings are just $2,262,428. He will pay California’s top tax rate of 13.30%, on top of self-employment tax and federal income tax. Mr. Vayo is only the second individual since I’ve been writing these summaries to lose over half his winnings to taxes.

Kenny Hallaert of Hansbeke, Belgium was a big winner in spite of finishing in sixth place. Mr. Hallaert is a poker tournament director in Belgium. Belgium does not tax gambling winnings of non-professional gamblers, so Mr. Hallaert’s pre-tax winnings of $1,464,258 are also his after-tax winnings! Even better, the US-Belgium Tax Treaty exempts gambling winnings, so Mr. Hallaert doesn’t owe any US income tax. Even though he finished in sixth place, his after-tax winnings put him in fifth place.

Winnings for the 2016 WSOP November Nine finalists after taxes

  Prize After-Tax Prize
1. Qui Nguyen $8,005,310 $4,682,153
2. Gordon Vayo $4,661,228 $2,262,428
3. Cliff Josephy $3,453,035 $1,778,467
5. Vojtech Ruzicka $1,935,288 $1,644,995
6. Kenny Hallaert $1,464,258 $1,464,258
4. Michael Ruane $2,576,003 $1,397,478
7. Griffin Benger $1,250,190 $875,133
8. Jerry Wong $1,100,076 $680,300
9. Fernando Pons $1,000,000 $550,416
Totals $25,445,388 $15,335,628



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