- Days left
Poor people can rest a little easier in Tennessee tonight. Or at least poor people who play the state lottery.

A bill that would have capped lottery winnings at $600 for anyone receiving state or federal assistance, also called welfare, died in a subcommittee hearing on Wednesday morning, according to its author, state Assembly Rep. Stacey Campfield.

Campfield, a Republican from Knoxville, Tenn., told me in a telephone interview that he was disappointed that his bill died for a lack of a second vote to move it along, but that he may reintroduce it next year.

"I guess people don't mind some people getting subsidized by the lottery," he said.

While some people against the bill disagreed with the government telling people how to spend their money, Campfield said that happens with government food stamps that can't be used for fast food. On a larger scale, it happens with the federal government telling automakers it is bailing out how to spend its money and even fires an auto CEO, he said.

WalletPop wrote about the proposed bill about three weeks ago, when the latest unemployment figures showed Tennessee's unemployment rate at 9.1%. It's now up to 9.6%, according to March figures. The state lottery isn't doing anything to improve employment, Campfield said.

"More people go into poverty through the lottery than the lottery has ever helped," he said, citing figures that 80% of the people playing make up the poorest 20% of the population.

"It's a sucker's bet," Campfield said of the lottery, which would have seen sales drop by 2.37% if his bill became law, according to a state study. "If you play the lottery and expect to win, you are a straight-up fool."

The state lottery has been in Tennessee for about five years, and the state would lose $6.4 million in lottery proceeds if the bill became law and the estimated 294,805 food stamp recipients who bought lottery tickets no longer played the lottery. That figure is from the state's own review, and is half of the people who receive food stamps.

So if half of the people who receive food stamps stop playing the lottery, then half would continue playing if the bill passed, the state found.

For a game where you're more likely to get struck by lightening twice than win big, it's a dream that the poor shouldn't be paying for with money they get from the government, Campfield said.

While he can't reintroduce the bill this year, Campfield said he plans to introduce a new version next year, possibly where welfare recipients who win the lottery would have to first pay back any government welfare money they've received before keeping the rest of their winnings.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net




Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Economics 101

Intro to economics. But fun.

View Course »

Timing Your Spending

How to pay less by changing when you purchase.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

What is IRS Form 8824: Like-Kind Exchange

Ordinarily, when you sell something for more than what you paid to get it, you have a capital gain; when you sell it for less than what you paid, you have a capital loss. Both can affect your taxes. But if you immediately buy a similar property to replace the one you sold, the tax code calls that a "like-kind exchange," and it lets you delay some or all of the tax effects. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses Form 8824 for like-kind exchanges.

What are ABLE Accounts? Tax Benefits Explained

Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts allow the families of disabled young people to set aside money for their care in a way that earns special tax benefits. ABLE accounts work much like the so-called 529 accounts that families can use to save money for education; in fact, an ABLE account is really a special kind of 529.

What is IRS Form 8829: Expenses for Business Use of Your Home

One of the many benefits of working at home is that you can deduct legitimate expenses from your taxes. The downside is that since home office tax deductions are so easily abused, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tends to scrutinize them more closely than other parts of your tax return. However, if you are able to substantiate your home office deductions, you shouldn't be afraid to claim them. IRS Form 8829 helps you determine what you can and cannot claim.

What is IRS Form 8859: Carryforward of D.C. First-Time Homebuyer Credit

Form 8859 is a tax form that will never be used by the majority of taxpayers. However, if you live in the District of Columbia (D.C.), it could be the key to saving thousands of dollars on your taxes. While many first-time home purchasers in D.C. are entitled to a federal tax credit, Form 8859 calculates the amount of carry-forward credit you can use in future years, not the amount of your initial tax credit.

What is IRS Form 8379: Injured Spouse Allocation

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the power to seize income tax refunds when a taxpayer owes certain debts, such as unpaid taxes or overdue child support. Sometimes, a married couple's joint tax refund will be seized because of a debt for which only one spouse is responsible. When that happens, the other spouse is said to be "injured" and can file Form 8379 to get at least some of the refund.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum