It’s an idea that would warm the two-sizes-too-small heart of Mr. Grinch.
But it is an idea whose time has come: Taxing lottery winnings.
(Pause for collective gasp, followed by shrieks of anger and calls for Santa to add a few more lumps of coal to the delivery bin.)
Is there any phrase more chilling than that one? Well, other than “Honey, we’re pregnant!”?
Regardless of our resistance, we need to talk about this. So, kindly put down the rope and stop looking for a tree, and let’s proceed.
It’s no secret that the public treasuries are in need of alms themselves. Equally clear is that we are not lining up to tithe any more to government any time soon. So if you can do anything other than Political Math, you can see that the numbers aren’t going to add up, and that at some point we will follow the lead of Greece (and we’re not talking hosting Olympics for naked athletes, although that would sure make pole vaulting a YouTube sensation).
That’s where lottery winnings come in.
We already tax other “sins” such as alcohol and tobacco, and sometimes even poker, so why not lotto cash?
The resulting revenue wouldn’t require any more governmental surgery on our wallets. 6/49 jackpots, see, aren’t anything we can count on (aside from those us who see them as our only retirement plan), so if the winners have to share a bit of the cash when they hit it big, it won’t make a dent in their household budgets.
Now, in the spirit of goodwill to others – and shouldn’t we all be concerned for the welfare of lottery winners? – we will build in some conditions to ensure this doesn’t become just another wasted windfall for fiscally-challenged elected officials.
To start, we make the first $5 million of winnings, per person, non-taxable. That amount should allow just about anyone to do absolutely nothing for the rest of their life, while collecting a fat cheque. (Psychologists have a term for people like that, by the way: Canadian senators.)
Second, let’s mandate that half of the taxes collected from the remainder be awarded to registered charities around the country, via a quarterly lottery.
Many winners already are in the giving spirit. Nova Scotians Allen and Violet Large, who won $11.2 million while in their 70s, gave most of it away. Meanwhile, B.C. winner Bob Erb started writing cheques immediately after pocketing his $25 million in winnings, including a $1 million pledge to help the fight to legalize pot. Wonder what he was doing when that idea hit?
And finally, let’s mandate that the other half of the taxes collected go directly to payments on the nation’s debt. No politicians can touch it. Ever.
That’s it. There’s the plan. OK, so it won’t exactly wipe debt off the map. But it will make a start, won’t cost taxpayers a cent, and will fund an expansion of charitable services.
Not such a mean one now, is it Mr. Grinch?