Taxman eyes lottery sellers

Taxman eyes lottery sellers

Penalties vowed for overpricing, evasion

Maj Gen Apirat Kongsompong (left), chairman of the Government Lottery Office board, and Rungson Sriworasat (right), finance permanent secretary, said they have agreed to investigate the top lottery ticket sellers over unpaid taxes on sales of lottery tickets for more than 80 baht. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)
Maj Gen Apirat Kongsompong (left), chairman of the Government Lottery Office board, and Rungson Sriworasat (right), finance permanent secretary, said they have agreed to investigate the top lottery ticket sellers over unpaid taxes on sales of lottery tickets for more than 80 baht. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

The Government Lottery Office (GLO) has stepped up efforts to tackle the problem of ticket overpricing by submitting the names of three large lottery ticket sellers to the Revenue Department for a probe into their income tax payments.

It will take "a couple of months" to see the result of the probe, said Maj Gen Apirat Kongsompong, the GLO's new chairman.

He earlier warned tickets priced at more than 80 baht apiece would be taxable on the amount exceeding 80 baht.

"We've warned vendors many times over the years to follow our rules, especially that the price of a ticket must not be more than 80 baht," Maj Gen Apirat said.

Revenue Department director-general Prasong Poontaneat said it would take time to probe the big sellers' tax payments.

If the department finds that overpriced ticket sellers have failed to declare their income from amounts exceeding 80 baht a ticket, they will face a fine equal to double the tax evasion value plus interest.

Mr Prasong said his department could trace tax payment records back 10 years.

"I insist we're doing this without meaning to persecute anyone," Maj Gen Apirat said. "I'm not afraid of lawsuits."

After the probe of their tax payments, the overpriced-ticket sellers will face interrogation by the Office of the Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission, the Anti-Money Laundering Office and the Department of Special Investigation.

Complaints about overpricing received by the GLO's call centre have pointed to 77 vendors, all now facing penalties.

Maj Gen Apirat said his office had been successful in coping with the issue by using Section 44 powers. The GLO found as many as 70% of vendors had complied with selling tickets for 80 baht each.

The GLO chief called on big lottery ticket vendors to stop marking up prices and vowed hard measures for those not in compliance.

"They [tickets vendors] seem to understand our reasons for controlling lottery prices and that we mean to continue doing so," Maj Gen Apirat said.

The GLO board ON Monday approved a proposal to cut the quotas of three large quota holders to 1 million tickets each from 1.6 million. It also agreed temporarily to send the proceeds from 22 million tickets to state coffers instead of to charity, boosting GLO revenue by 350 million baht a month.

The government began an overhaul of the lottery distribution system this month to tackle overpricing and put an end to the monopoly of influential people in lottery quotas. Lottery quota holders have operated as brokers for decades and now are being accused of profiteering from quotas and passing tickets on to vendors at steep prices.

A ThaiPublica report showed the top six lottery quota holders consist of three private companies granted a quota of 1.6 million tickets each - Kwanrudee Limitedd Partnership, Salark Mahalarp Co and Yad Nampetch Co - plus the War Veterans Organisation of Thailand, the Association of Retired GLO Employees and, the largest, the Government Lottery Office Foundation.


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