Answer 8 questions if you think you’ve won the big lottery jackpot

Please note: These are general guidelines. For more specific information on claiming prizes, visit your state’s lottery website:

Despite the odds, individuals throughout the tri-state can and do win massive lottery jackpots. If you’re one of the lucky few who thinks you’ve won, what should you do?

Here are some answers for anyone who owns this precious lottery ticket.

1. I won. What is it?

Lottery officials advise winners to take a deep breath, put the winning ticket in a safe place and consult with a reputable financial planner before arriving at lottery headquarters.

2. How long do I have to claim the jackpot?

States have different rules, so depending on where you bought your ticket, you have up to a year.

3. Do I get my money instantly?

No, you cannot cash one of the oversized checks shown in every winner’s photo. Payment speed also varies by state, but a week or two is common. Maryland Lottery spokeswoman Carol Gentry said the requirement is seven to 10 days in that state.

4. Can I keep my name secret?

Winners can remain anonymous in 10 states – Texas, Arizona, Kansas, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, Michigan, North Dakota, New Jersey and Ohio. Rules vary from country to country regarding the identification used to collect prizes, so it is best to consult a financial expert for full details.

5. What about taxes?

Some states automatically deduct a portion of the profits, so be sure to check what that deduction will be.

Melissa Labant, a tax policy expert at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, said winners should understand that even though taxes are withheld from the beginning when the prizes are awarded, more money is likely to be collected at tax time because people suddenly hit the 37 percent mark. tax bracket.

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“It catches people off guard,” he said. “You should be ready to write another check to the IRS in April.”

6. What are my taxes if I don’t live in the state where I bought my ticket?

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

7. Lump sum or annuities?

One of the first decisions you and your team will have to make is whether you will receive a lump sum (usually around 60% of the total value) or whether you will be paid annually over a period of time. With careful planning, you can increase your lump sum earnings by more than future annuity payments would. State farm. However, if you need some structural help to avoid overspending, an annuity is a solid, responsible way to ensure you’ll continue to earn income for most of your adult life.

8. Everything seems to be fine. What is it?

relax! Payment takes some time. Don’t make quick or impulsive decisions with money you think you’ve won. Also, don’t quit your job until you get that money.

AP Wire Services contributed to this report.

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