The VAT lottery was introduced to the public of Malta 20 years ago as an incentive for the customers to always ask for a receipt. It was also 20 years ago that Malta introduced the idea of Value Added Tax to its public for the first time as well.
The project seems to be successful, as it is still running strongly in 2020; however, not without any problems.
Recently, a participant has won the fiscal lottery five times in only eight months, which raised suspicions with a lot of people. In the State of Malta, about three million receipts are sent in by the public every month, all so they could win the lottery. Even though the odds of a winning strike are so low, the Ministry still says there is no need for an investigation.
The lottery works in a way that it lets participants win 100 times the total on the receipt they submitted, e.g. a receipt of EUR 32 would become a price of EUR3200, and so on. A receipt as low as EUR 2.33 would be worth EUR 233. Additionally, the winners are published every month.
The lucky winner who won five times won the following amounts:
- EUR 279 in August of 2019
- EUR 233 in November
- EUR 233 in January
- EUR 511 in February, and
- EUR 717 in May
Combined, the sum of money the lucky consumer won is EUR 1,973. When asked if this circumstance will be investigated, the Ministry spokesman said that a situation similar to this one happened a few years ago already. As a result, an investigation was carried out and it didn’t find any corrupt practices.
The Ministry also confirmed that the receipts are drawn under the supervision of a notary from the Office of the Notary to Government and a representative each from the Finance Ministry, the Commissioner for Revenue and the public, the latter appointed by the Finance Minister. Additionally, a national Audit Office representative is present as well, and their job is to observe the draw. It’s important mention that the draw is open for the public as well. Also, there are no restrictions which would prevent a single winner to win the lottery several times within a short time span.
The lottery was rigged in its beginnings though, and it happened between the years 2002 and 2003. The inspection resulted with 11 people charged for tampering with the draw process.
After this scandal, the lottery was revamped, and a lot of rules were changed. However, the National Audit Office raised concerns that some of the rules weren’t good enough, and that not all participants have equal chance of winning the lottery.