From riches to rags

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© Noradoa / Shutterstock
Spanish lottery.

EVERYONE dreams of winning the lottery but for one that dream turned into a reality. What started life as a dream come true soon unravelled into a nightmare culminating in hunger strike and potential homeless-ness. 

A double-handed amputee has been told to pay €72,000 in taxes after winning €125,000 in an illegal lottery. 

José Muñoz, has now decided to go on a hunger strike outside the tax offices of the Agencia Tributaria in Sevilla in protest of this large tax bill. 

The man from in Chiclana de la Frontera (Cádiz), was working in Jaen as a car park ticket seller for the lottery called ‘The Organisation Supporting Disabilities’ (OID) although this is not a legally recognised lottery. Back in 2005, to his initial delight, Muñoz thought he had won the jackpot along with two other families. It soon became clear that OID did not intend to shell out the winnings claiming that many of the tickets had been returned unsold and also accusing the winners of fraud. 

A long and tortuous legal process got underway which resulted in the lottery body being asked to pay out the winnings but now the father of three has been slapped with a huge tax bill due to accumulated interest over the years.

Concerns over his home and family are now real for Mr Muñoz: ‘I have now received a letter from the Treasury saying my home had been embargoed’ assured José in an interview with the Efe news agency. ‘This is like an illness for me’, he added.

Already losing around 60% of the prize fund on legal fees and other costs, José cannot understand, ‘how after fighting for so many years, the Treasury now wants to benefit from something illegal’ when what’s more in the date the prize was won all lottery winnings were out of tax.

‘The only income to my home is my wage, an important part of which is embargoed. What would the Treasury do if I lost my job or committed suicide, send my family onto the street? This is what I don’t understand’ he continued.

After discussing his options at the tax office in Cadiz, Muñoz has decided to resort to a hunger strike outside the Sevilla tax office from where he is awaiting a response. 

‘I think this is the only place which may help me, because over the last three years the Treasury has only been obstructive’, he assured.

Describing his family as ‘completely distraught’ about his decision but Muñoz, although concerned over his health, can see no other way. 

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