Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

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Portuguese Euromillions players rue winning too much

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in News · 05-02-2015 14:02:00 · 1 Comments

Four Portuguese Euromillions players could have been forgiven this week for being overly
optimistic about plans they might have been making after realising that they had correctly selected six of the seven winning numbers in Tuesday’s European lottery.

Portuguese Euromillions players rue winning too much

But having four out of the five regular numbers and both the stars fetched a prize of ‘just’ 5,223 euros, with the missing number worth a heart-breaking 14.995 million euros.
After coming so close, these four Portuguese winners then saw insult added to injury when, upon collecting their prize, they had 20 percent subtracted from their winnings and were handed a cheque of 4,178 euros. But their ‘misfortune’ does not stop here.
According to the controversial law enacted by Parliament in 2012, allowing the taxman to collect 20 percent of lottery winnings (with the exception of casino winners), the state coffers are only swelled by people’s winnings when they exceed 5,000 euros.
In effect, had Tuesday’s fourth prize amounted to 4,999 euros, there would have not been any tax to pay. This means that winning 224 euros less would have resulted in the oddity of winning 820 euros more for these four lottery winners.
Jogos Santa Casa, which operates gaming in Portugal, has been regularly confronted by questions over the legality
of this tax, seeing that it is played in nine European countries and that a national tax is seemingly in contravention of EU directives.
Portugal was taken to European Courts in 2009 for taxing winnings obtained by taxpayers in other EU member states citing the discriminatory nature of the system. But the EU apparently no longer has a claim as Portugal has put an end to this act of discrimination by opting to also tax winnings obtained within the country’s borders.
Switzerland, with the particularities of its fiscal system, also levies a tax on Euromillions winnings, while Spain set the example for its neighbours to the west by being the first to apply a 20 percent tax as the financial crisis started making inroads, but have a lower taxable threshold of 2,500 euros.
The Portuguese gaming authority, which is also a charity, says they are acting in compliance with Law Decree 66-B of 2012, Articles 205 and 206 which was published on 31 December when withholding a fifth of a player’s winnings became law.
Unveiled as an “extraordinary budgetary measure” at the time, this tax has since formed part of successive state budgets prepared by the government and will continue to be an “extraordinary” gain this coming year.
The state budget for 2015 foresees the taxman’s winnings reaching around 55 million euros, slightly below that collected in 2014 from Portuguese winners. This number was somewhat inflated by a player in Castelo Branco, who late last year paid one of the biggest ever one-off taxes to the Portuguese state.
In total, this player’s first act as a multi-millionaire was to hand over 38 million euros to the taxman after winning a mega jackpot prize worth 190 million euros.
Since the Euromillions first started in Portugal, a total of more than one billion euros has been paid out to first prize winners here, putting the country third on the lottery’s list of ‘eccentrics’ on a European level.
As for last Tuesday’s winning numbers, they were 17-31-33-44-50 with the star numbers being 7 and 11.
The full and tax-free prize of 15 million euros was collected by a player in France, while the best result in Portugal was for third prize, which totalled just under 36,000 euros, but shrank to less than 29,000 euros after the taxman had come around for his share of the spoils.

Comments

Any fair system of taxation would only levy the tax on the portion of winnings over €5000.
by Ray from Alentejo on 08-02-2015 07:24:00

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Edition 1497
20 October 2018
Edition: 1497

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

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