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Legislation that won unanimous House Finance Committee approval on Tuesday would take some of the glory out of hitting it big with a winning Pennsylvania Lottery ticket for those who are tax delinquents.Winners of ,500 or higher prizes from Pennsylvania Lottery tickets would see back taxes and back child support deducted from their take and public assistance recipients who are winners may lose their benefits under a bill that won House Finance Committee approval on Tuesday.File photo/Pennlive
The would require the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery, to determine if a taxpayer who wins a prize of ,500 or more owes the state money for back taxes or is delinquent in support payments. If he or she is, the department would be authorized to deduct the amount necessary to satisfy delinquent support, first, and then the tax debt.
Additionally, the department would be permitted to deduct a fee associated with costs it incurs in completing these checks.
And that s not all. The bill was further amended in committee to also require the Department of Public Welfare to make a determination as to whether the lottery prize winnings makes a public assistance recipient no longer eligible to receive benefits.
Committee Chairman Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said these rules would only apply to lottery winnings and not prizes from the that expands places where people can gamble that is now awaiting Gov. Tom Corbett s signature.
Revenue spokeswoman Elizabeth Brassell said the Corbett Administration is supportive of this proposal.
In seeking support for the bill, its sponsor, Rep. Adam Harris, R-Juniata, said in he saw his proposal as a way for the state to generate additional revenue without increasing or creating new taxes.
Besides, any reduction in the amount owed to the commonwealth is a positive, Harris stated.
Committee members raised no questions about the lottery winnings intercept to collect back taxes but some Democrats did voice concern about how long lottery winners who had been receiving public assistance might be deemed ineligible to receive benefits.
Committee staff indicated it would be only as long as they do not meet a welfare program s assets test that potential recipients are subject to now.
The proposal kicked off a brief philosophical discussion among some members over individuals on public assistance using money intended to buy food and pay for basic needs to buy lottery tickets.
They have a responsibility to spend the money for what it s intended, said Rep. Fred Keller, R-Union.
Rep. Brad Roae, R-Crawford, went further. He suggested the possible need for legislation that would make it illegal for someone who is receiving public assistance to buy lottery tickets.
Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Lycoming, took the discussion in a different direction, questioning why the state relies on people playing the lottery to pay for programs for older Pennsylvanians. But all agreed that these were matters to be dealt with outside this legislative proposal.
*This post has been updated to include the administration's position on this bill.
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