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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — More than a year after someone in South Carolina won an $878 million lottery jackpot, 1.2 million of the state's taxpayers are getting their own modest windfall from that lucky day.
The South Carolina Revenue Department said Friday it began mailing out $50 rebate checks to state income taxpayers. The money represents the taxes paid on the gargantuan winnings.
About 400,000 checks went out this week and all 1.2 million checks — sent out in zip code order — should be in the mail by Dec. 2, the agency said in a statement. It will cost about $700,000 to send the checks.
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster originally suggested $200 million be sent back to taxpayers as the state had an influx of money from lawsuit settlements and from rising tax revenues as the economy hums along and more people move in.
But lawmakers saw an even rarer pot of money — the $61 million in state income tax that would have to be paid by the person who bought the only winning lottery ticket for a $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot in October 2018 at the KC Mart in Simpsonville. The lottery winner opted for a $878 million one-time payment, but the taxes remained the same.
The General Assembly decided to send that windfall back to taxpayers after waiting for almost five months for the winner, who chose to remain anonymous under state law, to cash in the ticket. Each filer who sent at least $50 in income tax to the state will get $50 back.
But the money is based on returns, not on individuals. So married couples will have to split that $50 check — maybe on a nice dinner?
"Any time the government funds essential programs and agencies and has money left over, we should strive to send it back to the people who earned it," McMaster said in a statement.
Some Democratic lawmakers suggested instead of a small rebate, the money could be used for a raise for state workers whose salaries have been stagnant for most of this decade.
Some Republicans who supported the rebate said it would be better if the state cut taxes or reformed tax laws so there wouldn't be as much extra revenue in the first place.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP