Monday, January 23, 2006

The PA State Government Can't Do Math

Pennsylvania has a 6% state sales tax. Just in case retailers are too simple (or too smart) to understand what that means, they have this handy booklet to explain it all to them.

This may be (read: is) mostly inconsequential and nitpicky, but the booklet clearly states that sales tax is supposed to be calculated wrong. On page 4, it states, "The six (6) percent state Sales Tax is to be collected on every separate taxable sale in accordance with the tax table on page 37." Basically, the result is to take $0.06 on every dollar of the purchase price and add the proper tax for the fraction of a dollar. They do all the math and give the numbers as follows:

Purchase Price Tax
$0.00 - $0.10 $0.00
$0.11 - $0.17 $0.01
$0.18 - $0.34 $0.02
$0.35 - $0.50 $0.03
$0.51 - $0.67 $0.04
$0.68 - $0.84 $0.05
$0.85 - $1.00 $0.06

Now, it doesn't take a Ph.D. in math to notice that the cutoff points for the various pennies of tax are wrong. This means that technically, a cash register in PA should not do a 6% calculation for tax. Weird.

My real motivation in reading about Sales Tax was to find out if I'm entitled to a refund for sales tax paid for rebated amounts. I think the answer is no. So when I bought pens at Staples for "FREE (after rebate)", I actually had to pay $0.27 for them. Not very much, until you figure that there are some rebates over $100 out there. Then there's enough money in question to pay for wings.

1 comment:

Emil said...

Of course, if you moved to Oregon you wouldn't have this problem. You'd also have leftover cash for some wings.