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Thomas Kenny

The Fiscal Cliff Could Cost the Powerball Winner $17 Million

By November 28, 2012

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The fiscal cliff - or the set of tax increases and spending cuts set to go into effect at year-end - will affect all of us, but perhaps nobody more than the winner of tonight's Powerball jackpot. With a current prize estimated $550 million, a single winner who elects a lump-sum payout will take home a cool $360 million. So how does the fiscal cliff come into play? Currently, the 35% top tax rate means a single winner would net $234 million after taxes. But if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire on December 31 and the top tax rate climbs to 39.6%, the after-tax prize drops to $217 million. That's still a good chunk of change, to be sure. But a winner who puts off cashing in the ticket until January 1 may find themselves giving up an extra $17 million to Uncle Sam. My advice? If you win tonight's jackpot, run - don't walk - to the nearest lottery office to cash in your prize. Otherwise, you might as well throw that extra $17 million off a cliff.

Learn more:

What is the fiscal cliff?

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