27 September 2007

Luck, hope and taxes

The past few years I’ve been purchasing tickets for the Spina Bifida Association’s annual Porsche Raffle. Spina Bifida (7 out of every 10,000 live births) is a developmental birth defect where the neural tube does not form correctly. There’s no cure, but the risk can be reduced up to 70% by taking folic acid supplements.

Anywhoo, the first time I purchased a raffle ticket it was a spur of the moment decision. I saw a sign, “Porsche Raffle”, a Porsche Boxster, and I pulled over to learn more. Since the only way I’ll probably ever own a new Porsche is by winning one, and since the raffle had a set limit on the number of tickets, I bought one.

Initially I was excited at the possibilities, and for the first time in my life (hey, why torture myself with the impossible?) visited the official Porsche website. I played around with “building my Porsche”, but it only confirmed my previous thought that yes, the only way I’d ever own a new Porsche was by winning one.

It was only afterwards that it occurred to me that were I to actually win (ha ha) I’d have to pay 50% of the value in taxes, which would probably be a minimum of $22k to $25k. Ugh. I’d be forced to sell it, but at least I’d be on the plus side—financially. Emotionally, I’d be depressed. Imagine winning a new Porsche but then having to give it up. Double ugh.

Reminds me of the guy who won a trip to space, only to be forced to decline upon learning he’d have to pay taxes on the value of the trip, which, if memory serves, worked out to be more money than I’ll ever earn in my lifetime.

Anywhoo, that first year I greeted the news of not winning the Porsche with both disappointment and relief. But why do I continue purchasing tickets every year? It’s for a worthy cause, hope springs eternal, and even if I did end up selling a Porsche at least I’d feel vindicated sporting a spiffy Porsche baseball cap. Hey, I used to own a Porsche.

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