Do I Have to Tell the Unemployment Office I Hit the Jackpot at a Casino?

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Do I Have to Tell the Unemployment Office I Hit the Jackpot at a Casino?
Casino winnings are considered unearned income. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Unemployment insurance is not an entitlement for all unemployed workers. To qualify for unemployment benefits you must also meet certain legal and financial requirements. Once your claim is approved, you must continue to meet financial requirements to receive your weekly unemployment benefits. These financial requirements include reporting any income during a week you received unemployment benefits. However, the rules regulating income while receiving unemployment benefits -- including any casino winnings -- vary by state.

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Unearned Income

There are three main types of income to consider when assessing your benefits entitlement: earned income, unearned income and in-kind income. Earned income includes any money you received for doing some kind of work, whether it is building a barn or selling shares on the stock market. Unearned income includes payments you receive without having to perform any work, such as disability benefits and pension payments. Gambling winnings are generally considered unearned income.

Unearned Income and Benefits

The purpose of unemployment benefits is to provide financial assistance to households who need help while searching for work. If you receive any income at all, earned or unearned, while receiving benefits, you must report it to your state unemployment insurance agency. It is up to the unemployment insurance agency to determine if the income you received will affect your weekly unemployment benefit amount.

Unemployment Benefits Deductions

Income you receive while receiving unemployment benefits will generally be deducted from your weekly unemployment benefit amount. How much is deducted varies from one state to another. For instance, in Ohio you are allowed an income of 20 per cent of your weekly benefit amount without deductions. However, in New Jersey if your unemployment benefit year began after March 6, 2011, every dollar you receive in income after the first £32 will be deducted on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This means that if you receive £162 a week in unemployment benefits and you hit a £130 jackpot, you will only receive £65 in unemployment benefits for that week.

Unearned Income and Fraud

If you fail to report any type of income while receiving unemployment benefits, you could be found guilty of fraud and your unemployment claim may be cancelled. The same applies for taxes. If you hit the jackpot at the casino, you must report any earnings in your income tax return as well as to the unemployment office of your state. Unfortunately, you cannot claim your losses at the casino as a tax deduction.

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