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John Drennan: FG weighs up 'fun tax' on Lotto windfalls and low-cost beer

The country may be reeling from a raft of new taxes, cuts and VAT hikes. However, if the bright young guns in Fine Gael get their way, the shivering population will be shocked by more radical taxes.

At a recent Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting the wily Finance Minister Michael Noonan certainly got more than he expected when he asked the TDs for ideas on new taxes he could impose.

In a suggestion that conjured up the ghost of Ernest Blythe one of the more dramatic proposals was that lottery winners should be taxed.

It is believed advocates said that "any lottery winner would be so delighted they wouldn't mind giving up a €100,000 out of a million''. The top table and the Minister for Finance, however, reacted somewhat nervously to what were kindly called "somewhat radical'' ideas.

Another proposal was a new off-licence tax that would target low-cost supermarket alcohol sales.

It was suggested to Mr Noonan that this would consist of 50c on a can of beer or cider and €5 on a bottle of spirits and that the tax on beer alone would generate €150m.

Mr Noonan, however, has wisely sent that particular little present in the direction of Labour's Roisin Shortall while the cautious Finance Minister did not bite when he was told that a 2c tax on texts could secure up to €213m.

In a measure of the extent of the fiscal crisis there were even suggestions that "a modest tax on farming land might be needed".

As one source claimed: "It was like the 1970s, Ritchie Ryan and the wealth tax all over again".

A party grandee counselled against an immediate dismissal of all of the proposals, adding, "taxing the Lotto wasn't in this Budget, but there is always next year".

Sunday Independent