Lottery Taxes

The lottery is a game where people pay a small amount of money and win a prize if the numbers they choose match those randomly selected by a machine. It is one of the most popular games in the world. People are drawn to the idea that they can change their lives for the better with just a few bucks. But the odds are astronomical and taxes can wipe out all of the profits.

Historically, states created lotteries to raise revenue and entice new gamblers. They were under the false impression that lotteries are just another form of gambling and people will be drawn to it no matter what, so the government should capture this inevitable behavior and make money from it.

State governments also believed that by earmarking some portion of lottery proceeds for specific purposes, such as public education, they could reduce the amounts of appropriations they would otherwise have to allot from their general funds. However, critics point out that the earmarking of lottery proceeds just moves funds between programs and does not increase overall funding.

In the immediate post-World War II era, states viewed lotteries as a way to expand their social safety nets without burdening middle class and working class taxpayers with especially onerous taxes. In fact, state governments in those days had been under pressure from the general public to reduce taxation.

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