Finnish Tax Authorities Contacting Poker Players via Winning Lists
August 4, 2008 (InfoPowa News) — Tax authorities in Finland are causing confusion and perhaps even consternation with their latest strategy — demanding a declaration of Internet and land poker winnings from selected citizens who are poker players.
The recipients of the letters from the taxman were selected from winner lists in online and land gambling media and websites, a tax official told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
Judging by message board and other player comments, it appears that several dozen Finnish players received the letters, asking them for a declaration of winnings made over the past five years.
The request applies to winnings earned outside the European Economic Area, Raimo Kinnunen and Taneli Lallukka, top officials in the Finnish tax administration told Helsingin Sanomat.
Mikko Hirvonen, the chairman of the Finnish Poker Players' Association, says that the vagueness of the request and the short timetable put forward have triggered comment. Many players received the letter on Monday last week, and the deadline for a reply is mid-August.
There is confusion over whether it is sufficient for tax-free status that the organiser of a poker tournament is registered in an European Economic Area, or if the application for the tournament licence also has to emanate from within the EEA. Lallukka says that the matter is open to interpretation, as there are no legal precedents. At present, the deciding factor is where the organiser of the game is registered.
Gamblers are also unsure as to when they may deduct losses for tax purposes, and here Lallukka told the newspaper that a full-time player can deduct only those losses incurred in games played outside the EEA from winnings earned outside the EEA. Recreational players can only deduct the participation fees of the games in question.