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Rumors have it that people don’t like to pay taxes. Every year the same dramatic pictures hit the news with people trying to submit their tax-documents in time. And yet, the governments around the globe turn out to be even more creative than the inventors from the Silicon Valley or other creative hotspots. Taxes on windows (William Pitt the Younger, Great Britain), souls (Peter the Great, Russia) or urine (Nero, Rome) had been collected. Even tattoos are taxed or air taxes introduced.

You won’t find it strange then that the calculation of those taxes becomes real science. Have you ever tried to calculate the taxes in Brazil? They do not only depend on the state were you made the purchase, but sometimes also on the distance the good had to be transported. Unexecutable in the ages before computers were invented, but nowadays just a mouse-click and a key-stroke away from your tax form.

SAP of course knows that all. All the smart people working in this company have nothing else to do than making localized versions of SAP software. In close cooperation with the tax authorities, this gets implemented, shipped and used.

For example the formula for calculating the subway-tax, which has to be paid periodically by companies for each employee employed in the city of Vienna, the capital of Austria (Austria? A wannabe superpower state in Europe, with no kangaroos).

Anton D., SAP colleague and a native of Austria, born in the same state of Styria, from where the current governator of California originates, got the task to maintain and change this functionality in the localized version for Vienna. In close collaboration with his contact in the Austrian revenue service (Finanzministerium), this should be an easy task to accomplish (BTW: Hofrat is one of those many titles that Austrians have. More can be found in this older weblog about Humour@SAP: XXIII. Surviving SAP TechEd in Vienna).

Let’s switch to Vienna, and sneak into an office in the historic building of the revenue service. The telephone rings.

“Hello? Hofrat Geiger speaking.”
“Good morning. How are you doing? This is Anton D. from SAP in Walldorf, Germany. I am now responsible for the localized versions for Austria.”
“Good to hear from you. How can I help you?”
“Herr Hofrat, I have a question concerning the formula of calculating the subway tax. I am new to this task and wanted to know: How is the tax calculated?”
“Oh that’s easy. We just click the submit button in SAP, and the software calculates that for us.”

More anecdotes can be found in the Humour@SAP weblog series.


Now some advertising for those jokesters within my readers: Darüber lacht Wien (about this laughs Vienna) is not only a fantastically hilarious book (at least that’s the result from a survey that was made with me), it is also written by me.

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