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Answer to the Prior Post

Picture of Answer to PostThe last post was a little puzzle on determining tax rates if the computer is not cooperating. This is an old puzzle from back in the early 90’s, so we shouldn’t face this kind of issue today. At least, I hope things have improved.

Please see prior post for the description of the puzzle since I will jump right into how to arrive at the tax rates used by the computer.

Basically, what you do is look for the largest non-tax number and then find the largest tax number. Divide the tax number by your non-tax number and you will find the tax rate used by the computer. Let’s say that is the state tax number.

Now apply the tax rate against all of the non-tax numbers, thus generating your list of tax numbers, at least half of them. You should be able to map those numbers against the original set of tax numbers provided by the computer. Once you’ve mapped those, you will find that what is left is the county/city tax. Take the largest of the remaining tax numbers and divide it by the largest non-tax number to arrive at the county/city tax rate.

Once you see the answer, it is like “Duh! Of course!”.

But my boss and coworkers could not figure it out. I spent some time staring at the computer printout trying to divine the answer. It was only when I started to type the numbers into Lotus as something to do that the answer appeared. An unusually large number appeared and provided me the insight.

My boss never asked how I solved the problem which was just as well since I was not looking forward to making him feel “stupid” by the simple solution. I felt stupid for not seeing the answer quickly enough. My boss, though, was curiously incurious.

Moral of the story

Busy work can sometimes be good.

The answer may well be simple.

And, you need to be familiar with the characteristics of your numbers.

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