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Finnish Officials Sends Letters to Poker Players Asking For Record Of their Poker Winnings

On August 29th, 2008, tax officials in Finland are allegedly sending letters to poker enthusiasts all over the country asking them to state their winning from both Internet and land-based casino poker games for the past five years. According to reliable resources, the request applies to the poker winnings earned by players outside the European Economic Area (EEA), which consists of thirty countries including Finland, as prizes earned outside the group are tax-free.

Raimo Kinnunen, a top official for the Finnish Tax Administration and Tangle Lalukka, the head tax expert for the Tax Office of the Helsinki area, as estimating that at least more than a dozen letters had been given to players. The Chairman for the Finnish Poker Player's Association Miko Hirvonen said that the unclear request together with the short timetable has raised a lot of questions among poker players.

Kinnunen said that a lot of poker players had their names collected from winner's list on the World Wide Web and in existing poker publication, only received their letter last week. Aside from that, the questions remain as to whether it is enough for tax free status if the organizer of a poker event is duly registered in an EEA country or if the application for the license for the poker event needs to have been accomplished in the EEA as well.

Lallukka said that issue is open to personal interpretation because there are no existing legal precedents but at the present, the deciding factor should be where the organizer of the poker event is registered. Another problematic issue could be when do poker players have the right to subtract gaming losses from their taxes. Lallukka revealed that full-time poker players can only subtract those losses incurred in games played outside the jurisdiction of the EEA from winnings won outside of the jurisdiction of the EEA while recreational players could only subtract their participation fees.


09/15/2008, Monday
Matthew Dorst

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