The New Taipei City National Tax Administration’s Banciao District branch (板橋) is to hold an exhibition in September to commemorate six decades of the unified invoice lottery.
Not long after moving to Taiwan in 1949, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government introduced the unified invoice lottery in hopes of raising revenue for the government.
Banciao branch secretary Huang Shu-chen (黃淑貞) said she has kept many receipts — including handwritten ones from the early days — out of personal interest.
Many of the older ones were written in calligraphy, with revenue tax stamps glued onto the receipts, Huang said.
Some also had stamps by the employee writing the receipt and the owner of the business, she added.
Several of the earliest ones contained political slogans: “Crush the communists, fight to retake China” — proof of the dire political situation at the time, she said.
According to government data, the lottery prizes were capped at 50 times that of what was spent, with the minimum being NT$10.
“It is not like the present, where one can win tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars for just buying a tea egg, “ Huang said.
The lottery was suspended in 1957 due to a lack of funds, but it was reintroduced in 1965.
The slogans on the receipts were also changed, such as “Praise kind acts and kind people; change society’s habits,” Huang said.
In 1981, the government raised the funding for the special prize from NT$150,000 (US$5,000 at current exchange rates) to NT$2 million, Huang said.
In 1984, it subsidized private stores to buy machines that could print out the unified invoices to expedite the time it took to produce receipts.
However, along with the rise of environmental awareness, the government in 2006 introduced a new policy encouraging businesses to use digital unified invoice receipts.
The government also considered making the NT$10 million special prize eligible for digital receipts only, to encourage its promotion, Huang said, but it dismissed the idea amid complaints of unfairness.