In poker, the term “grinder” refers to a player who spends their days playing poker. Grinders treat poker like a business, sitting down for 8 hours to play, grinding it out like everyone else might grind out their work at a day job.
Michael Mizrachi’s nickname is “The Grinder” and he does exactly that, “working” at poker in a way that others might work at picking up garbage or running a cash register. And, like the rest of us, he has taxes to pay.
Unfortunately for Mr. Mizrachi, the IRS has recently put a lien on his home for $340,000 in unpaid taxes.
Over the course of his poker-playing career, the young Mizrachi has earned a whopping $6.9 million but, though poor money management and accounting practices, he owes $339,711, and he is facing foreclosure.
For many taxpayers, especially younger ones who begin to make a lot of money quickly in business, sports, Hollywood, or poker, taxes come as a nasty shock. People expect to pay taxes but making a lot of money can bump you up into a higher tax bracket very quickly, resulting in taxes owed that are far greater than you expected. It’s even more difficult to estimate the amount of tax you will owe when you don’t make a regular wage but rather earn your money in fits and starts (as a poker player might win a few times a year or a movie star might earn a few checks a year). Lots of my self-employed clients have this problem.
In Mizrachi’s case, it’s not simply a matter of putting in overtime or asking the boss for a raise. If he plans to continue “running his poker business”, he needs to play… And he needs to win… And he must develop the discipline to pay his taxes – on time.
This is a cautionary tale for those who want to play professional poker, professional sports, get into acting, or be a normal self-employed person: With every single paycheck, estimate the amount of taxes you owe and set that money aside (or pay quarterly) to avoid tax problems down the road.
(Photo credit: plutor)