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how long is a lottery ticket valid

How Old Can a Lottery Ticket Be to Turn in to Win?

Staying Anonymous After Winning the Lottery

All good things must come to an end, so they say, and that includes winning lottery tickets. The state agencies that regulate lotteries and other forms of gambling will set expiration dates on when the ticket can be redeemed. Keep the ticket safe, and whatever you do, turn it in on time.

Lottery Winnings

If you win a smaller amount in a lottery drawing, you can claim your prize at the store or outlet where you bought the ticket. If the winnings are more than $600, in most cases you must redeem the ticket through the state lottery agency. Most convenience stores do not carry a large amount of cash, and any win over $600 needs to be documented on a Form W-2G for federal tax purposes. There’s also a deadline involved, set by state law.

Expiration Dates

Lottery tickets expire, and state law sets the time frame. This can range from 90 days to a year. Some lottery tickets will carry this information in the fine print on the back. Others don’t, but you can always access this information through the lottery agency website. In Minnesota, for example, the expiration date is one year from the date of the drawing. For scratch-off tickets, the deadline is one year from the official end of the game. Minnesota’s lottery website posts a list of the current lottery games and the number of unclaimed prizes in each.

The Fate of the Unclaimed

If you buy a lottery ticket, sign it immediately and keep it safe. If the ticket is lost or stolen without a signature, then anyone who finds it can turn it in. If a prize goes unclaimed, then state law sets down the next step. Either the lottery agency returns the money to the cash pool for another game, or turns the money over to the attorney general of the state. A multi-state lottery will return the money to each state lottery agency in proportion to their ticket sales.

Why Expire?

Strange as it may seem, a healthy number of winning lottery tickets do expire. According to a CNN report, $800 million in lottery money never found its legitimate owner in 2011, out of nearly $40 billion in total prize money. A common reason is that many lottery players don’t realize they’re holding “secondary” winners, which matched some, not all, of the numbers. Another reason may be that the news of a jackpot winner in another state discourages people from even checking their tickets for the smaller prize. Unclaimed jackpots, understandably, are rarer.

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Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor’s degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.

All good things must come to an end, so they say, and that includes winning lottery tickets. The state agencies that regulate lotteries and other forms of gambling will set expiration dates on when the ticket can be redeemed. Keep the ticket safe, and whatever you do, turn it in on time.

You’ve won the Mega Millions jackpot. Now what?

Have your lucky numbers ready for the Mega Millions jackpot? Buzz60’s Mercer Morrison has the story.

A view of a sign showing the jackpot for the Mega Millions lottery at $900 million in New York, New York, on October 17, 2018. (Photo: Justin Lane, EPA)

DES MOINES, Iowa – Despite the terrible odds – one in 302.5 million for those keeping score at home – someone will eventually match all six numbers and win the Mega Millions jackpot, now at $900 million. It could happen as soon as Friday night, when the next drawing is held, leaving most of us disappointed but some lucky winner beset by a host of questions.

Here are some answers for someone holding that prized lottery ticket.

I’VE WON. NOW WHAT?

Lottery officials recommend winners take a deep breath, put their winning ticket in a safe spot and consult with a reputable financial planner before popping over to the lottery headquarters. Their first decision is whether to take the cash option, which would now be $513 million, or an annuity, with one initial payment and annual installments over 29 years. Nearly all winners opt for cash, but the annuity has advantages, as it reduces the tax bill a little and offers a stable flow of income that climbs by 5 percent annually.

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO CLAIM THE JACKPOT?

States have different rules, so depending on where you purchased the ticket, you have from 180 days to a year.

DO I GET MY MONEY INSTANTLY?

No, you can’t just cash one of those oversized checks shown in all the winner photos. Payment speed also varies by state, but a week or two is common. Carole Gentry, a spokeswoman for the Maryland lottery, said the requirement is seven to 10 days in that state.

CAN I KEEP MY NAME SECRET?

Winners can remain anonymous in six states – Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, North Dakota, Ohio and South Carolina. In Arizona, people who win more than $600 can keep their names secret for 90 days after claiming prizes, but after that names are public record. In Michigan, winners are anonymous unless they win Mega Millions or Powerball prizes.

WHAT ABOUT TAXES?

For winners of $5,000 or more, all states automatically deduct 24 percent in federal taxes but state taxes vary widely. Some big states, including California, don’t withhold taxes from lottery winnings, and some like Texas don’t have individual income taxes at all. For the others, the state takes a bite, especially in New York, where a winner would need to pay a state tax of 8.8 percent. Residents of New York City would pay an additional tax of 3.9 percent. In general, taxes eat up nearly half of winnings.

Melissa Labant, a tax policy expert at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, said winners should realize that while taxes are initially withheld when prizes are awarded, more money will likely be due at tax time as people suddenly are in up to a 37 percent tax bracket.

“That catches people off guard,” she said. “You have to be prepared to write another check to the IRS in April.”

WHAT ARE MY TAXES IF I DON’T LIVE IN THE STATE WHERE I BOUGHT THE TICKET?

This can get complicated, but for the most part winners pay taxes where they bought the ticket and then can get a credit on their taxes in their home state. The final tax bill can depend on if the state where you live taxes at a higher or lower rate than where you purchased the ticket. Rules vary by state, so this is a good topic for that financial planner.

It could happen as soon as Friday night, when the next drawing is held, leaving most of us disappointed but some lucky winner beset by a host of questions.