June 8, 2015 - group portrait
On the way back from picking up my mobile phone at the police’ lost and found office my friend Nico and I passed by Liberty Square again. We found a group of young people offering free hugs. It turned out the students from Yang Ming University were not only there to give free hugs and make people happy. They wanted our receipts.
In the 1950s the Taiwanese government realized that they are loosing a lot of tax because a lot of business is done by cash and without an invoice changing hands. Jen Hsien Qun, the KMT finance chief at the time, came up with the concept for a receipt lottery encouraging people to obtain a receipt for any transaction. The lottery started on 1st of January 1951 and led to a 75% increase of tax revenue in the same year. The lottery drawing happens on the 25th of each odd numbered month. Six sets of 8-digit numbers are drawn and announced in a live televised ceremony. The owners of the receipts matching all eight digits get the first prize. Smaller wins will be given for seven down to three matching digits. The smallest price can be received as goods at convenience stores like 7eleven. All others prices need to be redeemed at a government tax office. In 2011 the government announced a 33% increases in prizes to celebrate the lottery’s 60th birthday. In 2006 the ministry of finance started an e-invoice initiative to reduce the number of printed invoices. Eight billion of the 11.5 billion printed paper receipts could be replaced by e-invoices saving about 80,000 trees each year.
Nico and I got our hugs and gave a couple of receipts with the (hopefully) next winning numbers to the students. The money they might collect after the next drawing will go to a children’s fund. When I heard the story about the fa piao (receipt) lottery first in 2002, I was impressed by a legislative that comes up with such a win-win concept. Which government doesn’t want to collect more tax money and which individual doesn’t want to win the lottery? Bringing both together is just a brilliant idea. Also finding ways to benefit people in need with the lottery distribution, as these young adults do, is a wonderful initiative.
Thanks for reading another little piece of international trivia …