Lottery and Taxes

April 02, 2010

Robert Parham had an interesting Ethics Daily piece yesterday on the lottery and taxes. Entitled "Lottery Is a Form of Public Tax Evasion," the piece notes that the lottery is a way of creating government revenue instead of raising taxes. The problem is that it is a regressive way for the government to raise money since the poor are the most likely to buy tickets and thus remain poor. Parham argues:

Unable or unwilling to create a fair and just tax system to provide for public services like education and health care, states have embraced the lottery as an alternative source of revenue. We, the citizens, have evaded making tough choices about taxation by embracing the lottery. We are engaged in a form of public tax evasion.

Most of us are content with a public scheme that transfers wealth from the poor - those most likely to play the lottery - to middle-class and rich Americans. The poor play and pay. We benefit from the public services. Yet again, the poor are exploited.
Very important points to think about as we considered issues of lotteries and taxes.