Pa. officials look at means to amplify revenue sources

    As the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue looks a ways to amplify what the state takes in, one option under consideration is putting lottery ticket sales in state liquor stores would be a boon.

    But not all lawmakers are keen on the idea.

    Profits from the Pennsylvania Lottery have held pretty steady over the past few years, according to the department. A key to boosting those sales, officials said, is to increase the number of retailers. And the state-run liquor stores would seem to be prime retail sites.

    But Senate Appropriations Committee majority chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre, says such a move would force privately owned stores to compete with state stores for lottery ticket sales.

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    “I’m not for putting those in a government run monopoly,” Corman said. “I think that would be unfair to private enterprise that’s out there working hard to meet a payroll.”

    The revenue secretary says he’s sympathetic to the concern. His office says the first year of selling lottery tickets in state liquor stores could net up to $20 million, depending on where and how the tickets are sold. Thirty percent of the state lottery revenue goes into programs benefiting older Pennsylvanians.

    The department also is investigating ways to encourage better compliance with tax requirements on Internet purchases. Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser, however, said Tuesday educating residents about reporting online purchases and paying sales taxes on them is a work in progress.

    Senators are skeptical that many people will file the tax at all, despite the Corbett administration’s announcement that those who don’t voluntarily pay the tax may be audited.

    Meuser said the commonwealth’s tax returns will include a suggested amount of online sales tax to pay.

    “It’s based upon what their income is and what we’ve determined through various analyses what would be typical at those income levels,” he said. “Certainly at $25,000, it might be, I don’t know remember exactly, $100 dollars in purchases, so therefore it would be a $6 use tax.”

    The state anticipates about $7 million from individuals who file the tax, but Meuser said it could end up being higher.

    Electronic tax forms don’t allow individuals to leave the line blank, and about 70 percent of the state’s residents file their tax returns electronically.

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