Taiwan introduced a uniform invoice lottery in 1951 in an attempt to force businesses to pay their required sales tax. It was a great success: tax revenue rose by 75% compared to the previous year. This lottery has continued on into the present day and the prizes range from 200 NT ($6.50 US$) to a cool $10,000,000 NT ($324,000 US$). Draws are held once every 2 months and winners have a time limit to come forward and claim their prizes.
Below is a summary of each prize value and the odds of 1 receipt winning:
200 NT – 1 in 200 chance
1,000 NT – 1 in 3,333 chance
4,000 NT – 1 in 33,333 chance
10,000 NT – 1 in 333,333 chance
40,000 NT – 1 in 3,333,333 chance
200,000 NT – 1 in 33,333,333 chance
2,000,000 NT – 1 in 100,000,000 chance
10,000,000 NT – 1 in 100,000,000 chance
Note: for prizes greater than 1000 NT, the winner will be taxed 20% of the prize value, which seems a bit pointless as the prizes are derived from tax revenue anyway. Regardless, it’s still a great opportunity for consumers to have a chance to win prizes just by doing their normal shopping.
The Finance Ministry of Taiwan quotes the total prize value for each draw at 7 Billion NT ($22.7m US$). If you extrapolate from this figure using goal-seek on the above probabilities it works out that there are, on average, 4.4 billion invoices in play for each draw (see following image for the numbers).
Using 23,268,087 as the population of Taiwan (taken from a July 2012 estimate), this works out to a total of 189 invoices per person, per prize period. Further, this equates to approximately 3.15 invoices per person, per day. I have kept track of my invoice accumulation over the last month and this figure checks out.
So how does this analysis help you win the lottery? First of all, if you are accumulating invoices at the average rate of 3.15 per day, statistically you should win a 200 NT prize almost once every draw. Statistically you stand to win the 1,000 NT prize once every 17 draws – or at least once every 3 years! Anything above that and you are looking at once every 30 years for the 4,000 NT prize, 300 years for the 10,000 NT prize and a staggering 88,000 years for the top prize. But don’t despair, continue reading for some tips on how you can improve your chances.
If you are only accumulating 3 invoices per day then that’s around 20 invoices per week. You must improve this if you want to win the top prize! Firstly, have a look at your shopping habits. Do you visit the supermarket and fill up your basket with enough supplies to last for the week? Bad idea! Change your weekly shopping trip to a daily shopping trip and you’ll increase your average daily invoices to 4. At this rate, your average statistical yearly winnings should be around 2,300 NT ($75 US$).
Next, you need to consider drinking more Bubble Tea. Bubble Tea is healthy and delicious. It is full of calcium which will make your bones strong and make you more attractive. Be sure to drink at least 2 Bubble or Milk Teas per day (on separate invoices!) to increase your average daily invoices to 6. Projected yearly winnings increase to 3,500 NT ($113 US$).
The next step is a bit more drastic – but it’s guaranteed to improve your chances of winning! Take a look at your receipts from the past month. On average, you probably had about 3 different items on each receipt. For example, I’ll use my receipt from 7 Eleven last Friday. I purchased one Milk Tea, one Delicious Sandwich© and one Banana. In future, ensure you purchase each item separately to maximise your chances. If you’re dining at a restaurant, why not settle the bill after you order your entree? You can then pay again after your main and ensure your dessert is charged to its own invoice. Following this process will increase average daily invoices to 8. Yearly projected winnings climb to 4,600 NT ($150 US$).
8 invoices per day is good but at this rate you are still only likely to win the 10,000,000 NT prize once every 34,000 years. If you intend on living that long then continue at this rate – but if not then it’s time for some serious changes to your shopping behaviour!
So you’re at the supermarket and you want to purchase your daily snack of peanuts from the bulk food section. You can scoop them into a bag and pay for them on one invoice – but that would be such a waste! Instead, pay for each individual peanut separately. It might be time consuming (and probably get you banned from the supermarket forever!) but it will give you another 100 entries per day. At 108 invoices per day your annual winnings are over 62,000 NT ($2,000 US$)!
I’m joking of course but when time and convenience permits, do ensure you collect as many invoices as possible. Out of interest, with the current setup to the Invoice Lottery, if every consumer in Taiwan were to adjust their shopping habits to get one extra invoice per day (without increasing the average value of their purchases) the expected prize pool would climb by nearly $2 billion NT!