Couple wins dream home, faces hefty taxes

February 25, 2009 11:45:57 AM PST
Money is not coming easily for anyone, these days, especially non-profit charities that rely on donations. In the North Bay, Community Action Marin made a bundle this year, by selling 29,000 raffle tickets at $150 each. The grand prize was a house.

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Susan and Brad Wells of Danville have been riding an emotional rollercoaster over the past couple of weeks. Recently they took a tour of their new house. It's a $2 million palace high on a hill above Marin County.

"Amazing, unbelievable. It's fabulous," Brad said.

"Are you pinching yourself?" asks ABC7's Wayne Freedman.
"I'm pinching him," Susan said pointing to her husband.

Last Wednesday, Brad was laid off from his sales job in a high tech hardware company.

"It was a rough ride for the last year," Brad said.

Little did he know that that last September, Susan paid $150 for a single raffle ticket in a charity auction run by Community Action Marin. The grand prize was a house. Their life changed with one phone call.

"I think I turned white, pale as a ghost," Susan said.

"She screeches out, 'Oh my God. I can't believe this,'" Brad said.

But nothing is as simple as it seems, not even this $2 million luck of the draw.

"After the hysteria went away, that Sunday, I started running numbers," Brad said.

Because as far as the IRS is concerned, this win means $2 million of taxable income for a couple that as of last week, does not have one. Anybody got a spare $600,000?

"It's a wonderful problem to have," Susan said.

They do have an option, to pass on the house and get about a $1 million cash payout, but that means taxes as well. Who would have thought that winning a fortune, might also cost one.

"Today I am humbled because I walk through this, and it could be mine, and I think of all the other people having difficulties, and it really makes you think, 'Wow, I'm a pretty lucky guy,'" Brad said.

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