Like most other places in America during this exciting time in the sports year, the city of Buffalo is home to office pools and “bracketologists,” sharing their depth of knowledge with friends and co-workers, predicting who may take the final prize and be crowned NCAA college basketball Division I champion.

#MarchMadness is in full effect and Buffalo expects thousands of sports fans to make their way here to enjoy our city and check out championship games at the First Niagara Center downtown (Look for the Twitter hashtag #buffhoops for visitor info and helpful tips of things to do while sports fans are in town!)

If you are one of the fortunate winners of one of these “pools” (based on your skills and research efforts, of course), the only person more excited than you is Uncle Sam. Did you know that taxable income on your personal tax return includes all gambling winnings? You may be able to offset some of this income as gambling losses are deductible to the extent of gambling winnings, but there is a catch. They must be reported as an itemized deduction on Schedule A (not subject to the 2% floor) – assuming you are not a professional gambler (different rules apply).

This might all seem like a bunch of mumbo jumbo….. To all of you non-accountants out there, this means that you may not be able to claim these losses unless you have other itemized deductions like real estate taxes or home mortgage interest for instance. To complicate this further, adequate documentation is required to claim such losses.

You would need to provide:

1. The date and type of specific wager or wagering activity

2. The name and address or location of the gambling establishment

3. The names of other persons (if any) present with the taxpayer at the gambling establishment.

4. The amount won or lost

As you can see, if you aren’t in the know, things can get complicated, and that’s definitely why many accountants and tax professionals are super busy right about now! It’s tax season… our very own “March madness.” It’s not only about the pride of college athletes and winning teams, the thrill of the game and the agony of defeat, but about the hours upon hours put in by hard working CPAs and tax professionals all across the country, working to get their client’s tax return documents filed in time for the tax day deadline.

So, don’t forget, swing into spring, the countdown is on, as tax payers have until Tuesday, April 15th to file their return! And remember, while many sports fanatics are totally into the game, measuring and analyzing free throw statistics and shooting percentages, accountants like me across the country are working around the clock to help their clients file their returns by the deadline day.

When March Madness is over, a victor emerges from the Final Four, and April 15th has passed, there will be both cheers from sports fans and CPAs alike. And, if you happen to be in town to catch the games, don’t forget to check out Visit Buffalo Niagara’s website for more cool things to do around town!