LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — In its five years of operation, the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery has raised nearly a half-billion dollars in scholarships to help 135,000 Arkansas students attend in-state public and private colleges and universities. But thanks to an often-forgotten provision of the Arkansas Code, the Lottery has also benefited state operations by recouping nearly $1 million in unpaid taxes and child support payments.
The Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Act of 2009 requires the Lottery to "cooperate in identifying debtors who owe money to the state", specifically prize winners with unpaid state taxes or child support payments.
Since awarding its first prize on September 28, 2009, up to July 31, 2014, the Lottery has collected $688,243.84 in unpaid taxes, subsequently transferred to the Department of Finance and Administration. In the same period, $296,382.22 was collected and transferred to the Office of Child Support Enforcement.
Arkansas Scholarship Lottery Director Bishop Woosley expects the Lottery will easily surpass $1 million in total recouped funds by 2015.
"We're delighted to play even a small part in recovering these funds," Woosley said Tuesday. "The General Assembly recognized that prize payments offered an opportunity to settle debts that ultimately burden the taxpayers of Arkansas and custodial parents who depend on their child support. We like being part of the solution."