In honor of today’s $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot, we bring to the top the piece we wrote nearly three years ago, Jackpot! Finding Lottery Winnings.
The executive summary of that entry is that lottery winnings are federally taxable and therefore harder to conceal than other kinds of assets. If you can subpoena a tax return you can usually see signs of the gambling income unless the other side is actively evading the IRS.
Prior to the subpoena stage, however, it would be a staunch individual who would not be tempted to spend at least a bit of the $900 million cash value of today’s Powerball (assuming a single winner and the election of the lump sum amount after withholding).
But what about if the winnings are older or, while not as large as $900 million, large enough to elicit some new spending?
There, we start to talk about the special way asset searchers look for cash.
Our approach is that absent a court order that gets you into bank account records, the search for cash is most often the search for things that will lead you to cash.
In looking for non-cash assets, we pay especially close attention to the way those assets were acquired. Where did the cash come from? Were there companies we have never seen before used as acquiring vehicles?
We once had a case in which a New York resident bought New York property on several occasions over a period of a year. The buyer’s signature on each and every one was notarized in Dallas, where we had no record of any buyer activity. A short time later, a more detailed search revealed Texas business links and more assets.
Like anything else brought out into the sunlight, assets of any kind cast shadows. Those shadows can tell you a lot.