Friday, December 9th, 2016

Taxing the poor

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The Tomah Journal is with me on abolishing the lottery.

The Wisconsin Lottery invites us to “celebrate 20 years of fun with us!” But is the lottery’s 20th anniversary really a cause to celebrate? Or should it trigger scrutiny of a government program that, broadly speaking, transfers wealth from the poor to the more affluent?

Wisconsin’s lottery is a strange beast. It doesn’t raise general revenue or create a dedicated funding source for a particular government program. Instead, the Wisconsin Lottery is raw economic redistribution — profits are put directly into the pockets of residential homeowners through a property tax credit. The credit, which varies from year to year depending on ticket sales, was $87 in 2006 and $74 in 2007. The upward income redistribution is awkward to justify — people who own property tend to be more affluent than those who don’t — but it’s how our lottery works.

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