NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop outlined the tax withholding and reporting changes in pari-mutuel wagering in September

NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop outlined the tax withholding and reporting changes in pari-mutuel wagering in September

Anne M. Eberhardt

Tax Reporting, Withholding Changes Impact Breeders' Cup

Changes reduced reporting, kept more money in players' hands.

This year's Breeders' Cup World Championships Nov. 3-4 at Del Mar marked the first major United States race day since U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service rules on reporting and withholding were updated in September, and the impact was significant.

Despite some of the longest-priced winners in Breeders' Cup history, only 35 winning tickets at Del Mar triggered IRS reporting or withholding via automatic W-2G filings across the two-day Breeders' Cup World Championships. That represents a 97% reduction from the previous year, when 1,333 W-2G filings occurred on-track at the host site.

The U.S. Treasury Department and IRS adopted modernized regulations regarding the withholding and reporting of pari-mutuel proceeds in September after lobbying by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) on behalf of the Thoroughbred industry. The Breeders' Cup year-over-year results are among the first early indicators of how beneficial the new rules might be for horseplayers and the industry, according to data provided by the California Horse Racing Information Management System (CHRIMS).

Breeders' Cup wagering on track was up 21.4% this year ($25,181,317 vs. $20,742,847 in 2016). The total common-pool handle for the two days was up 5.9% ($166,077,486 vs. $156,861,811), the highest since 2010 (when there were two additional Breeders' Cup races).

"The drastic reduction in W-2Gs at one of the world's biggest sporting events illustrates what a big win our effort resulted in for horseplayers and the sport," said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop. "While it is too early to measure the long-term impacts of this change, we are confident that all segments of the industry will benefit from the proceeds being kept in circulation."

Of the 53 W-2Gs at Del Mar during Friday and Saturday's Breeders' Cup, 20 were for reporting only, compared with 1,224 last year, a 98% reduction. And 15 included automatic withholdings for taxes, compared to 109 in 2016, an 86% drop. The withholdings amounted to $138,753, or 55% less than last year's $313,446, with all but $4,324 tied to Saturday's results that included some of the largest payoffs in Breeders' Cup history.