Foreign Withholding Lopped From Federal Tax Cut Bill

Congress passed a $350-billion tax cut measure on May 23, but the bill did not include a clause eliminating an existing 30% withholding tax on winning pari-mutuel wagers placed by foreigners through U.S. betting pools.

The provision, sought by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and American Horse Council, was included in the bill originally passed by the Senate, but it was not in the House of Representatives version. Language that would eliminate the withholding tax was not included in the final version worked out by a conference committee of the House and Senate and approved by both chambers.

The tax, requiring 30% withholding on any winning wager made by a foreigner, makes it impractical for most countries to tap into U.S. pari-mutuel pools. Canada, for example, offers wagering on American races but creates its own pools, a disadvantage to major bettors.

"Our provision has made real progress in moving through both the Senate and House in the last 12 months," said Greg Avioli, chief operating officer and deputy commissioner of the NTRA. "Passage of any tax legislation in Congress is never an easy process, but with the full Senate having approved our provision, we believe it's well positioned for passage during the current Congress."