EuroMillions prizes are taxed in three of the nine participating countries – Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland – so you will not receive the full advertised amount if you play in one of these locations. However, the issue of tax can become more complex as your winnings accrue interest, or if you wish to give away any of your money. Find out where prizes are taxed and what you need to know even if your country doesn’t withhold any tax on the initial payment.
Written by Alex Kiam
Are Lottery Winnings Taxed in the UK?
All lottery prizes in the UK are awarded tax-free, regardless of how much you win or which game you play. Lottery winnings are not treated as income by HM Revenue & Customs, which is the government department responsible for taxation. If you win £2.50 or £125 million, you will be paid the full amount.
UK Tax Implications
While there is no tax on lottery winnings in the UK, there are a number of important considerations to keep in mind if you are lucky enough to bank a substantial amount such as a EuroMillions jackpot.
Inheritance tax (IHT) is paid when a UK resident dies and their estate is worth more than £325,000. Everything above that threshold will be taxed at 40 percent. If you win a large EuroMillions prize and your estate exceeds the £325,000 valuation, you should be aware of the rules regarding IHT and how it will affect your heirs.
It is very common for big winners to want to share their jackpot in some way, but if you want to make a gift without paying tax you must meet one of the following criteria:
- Give the gift more than seven years before you die.
- Give the gift to your husband, wife, or civil partner.
- Give less than your annual allowance of £3,000.
The seven-year rule is in place to stop people from giving money away just before they die so that they can avoid IHT. As long as you live for at least seven years after making your gift, you can give as much as you want to whoever you want without it being liable for IHT.
If you were to die within seven years, the recipient would have to pay IHT based on a sliding scale. The rate of tax is the full 40% if there are less than three years between you giving your gift and dying, and then it goes down to 32% in years three to four, 24% in years four to five, 16% in years five to six and 8% if there are between six and seven years between your gift and your death.
Any gifts made to your spouse or civil partner are exempt from IHT, so it would not matter if you died within seven years. You can also give gifts to any registered charity without being liable for tax, along with some national organisations, such as the National Trust, universities or museums.
You can also take advantage of the £3,000 ‘gift allowance’ each year without incurring IHT. If you give away more than this amount and pass away within seven years, the recipient would have to pay tax. It is possible to carry over your leftover allowance from one tax year to the next, but only up to a maximum of £6,000.
Other Tax-free Gifts
You can also give smaller gifts of up to £250 to as many people as you want without them being subject to IHT, although this would not include anyone who has already received gifts totalling the whole £3,000 annual exemption.
Wedding gifts can also be exempt from IHT, but only if they are made before the wedding and there has to be proof that the marriage does go ahead. You can make wedding gifts of up to £5,000 to a child, £2,500 to a grandchild or great-grandchild or £1,000 to anyone else. You can also make gifts to help pay the living costs of an ex-spouse, an elderly dependent or a child.
Lottery rules in the UK stipulate that only one person can be paid a prize, so when playing in a syndicate it is essential to have a formal agreement in place to show to tax authorities. This will prove the money was not just a gift and that everyone is entitled to their share. Anyone playing in an informal syndicate should be aware that they may have to pay inheritance tax on the full amount if the syndicate leader dies within seven years of the prize money being shared.
Tax on Interest
Most people can earn some interest from their savings without paying tax, but this might not be the case if you win a large enough EuroMillions prize. While there is no tax on the initial sum paid into your account, it may be that the win starts to produce an income through interest. This will then be taxed as part of your normal income tax.
What to Do About Tax Issues
When you win a large lottery prize in the UK, you will have the chance to speak to experienced advisors who have guided other lucky players through what to do with their newfound wealth. They will be able to point you in the direction of financial experts and will recommend the most appropriate banks for you to open an account with based on your own circumstances.
With regards to the issue of IHT, it is a good idea to think carefully about the timing of any gifts you plan to make, and then keep a record of any payments. Your financial advisor will also speak to you about the tax on your interest and discuss possible investments to give you the maximum benefit. It may be a complicated topic, but any advice you receive will be tailored to your own personal situation and one very positive aspect is that your prize will not be subject to the same sort of tax laws as it would be in other countries.
Taxes in Other EuroMillions Countries
If you win a EuroMillions prize in Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland or Luxembourg, you will not be taxed on your winnings, just like in the UK. However, winners will be taxed in Portugal, Spain and Switzerland.
In Portugal, any prize worth more €5,000 is taxed at a rate of 20 percent, while there is a levy of 35 percent in Switzerland on any winnings over CHF1 million. Spanish prizes of more than €40,000 are subject to tax at 20 percent.
You can only claim a EuroMillions prize in the country where you bought your ticket, so you will have to accept the local rules on tax even if you are not a resident of the country.
EuroMillions Taxes vs Other Lotteries
EuroMillions offers some of the largest jackpots in the world, and the fact that prizes are not taxed in six of the nine countries makes it stand out even more in comparison with some of the other big lotteries.
American games such as Powerball and Mega Millions, for example, have tax obligations at both a state and federal level, so although these games regularly offer the biggest jackpots out of any lottery in the world, the payouts can end up significantly lower than the pre-draw estimate.
New Yorkers suffer heavier taxes than anyone else in the U.S. In August 2018, one player from the state won a Powerball jackpot advertised at $245.6 million, but they ended up walking away with a significantly lower sum. They opted to take a cash lump sum of $147 million, which worked out as a final payout of $99.4 million – around 40% of the advertised jackpot – after taxes had been deducted.
In EuroMillions, you will be given the specified amount with no deductions if you play in a country which does not tax winnings, such as the UK. The UK player who anonymously claimed £121 million in April 2018, for example, received a much larger payout than the $245 million Powerball winner, even though at first glance it would seem they had not won as much.