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LinuxWorld.com: Virtual case study: When Unix is a four-letter word

Jan 23, 2002, 13:14 (15 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Murphy)
"The "I" in this scenario is that of a hapless systems consultant who didn't do his homework before setting off to meet the client. The Happy Valley Tax Authority, its staff and mandates, are fabrications but the situation presented, and the remedies offered, reflect the author's recent experience with real-world clients facing similar problems. This tax authority is imaginary, but the conditions, decisions, and outcomes described are broadly based on real events.

The Happy Valley Tax Authority was set up as a regional cooperative to administer tax programs for local governments along an 80-mile stretch of highway. At the time of incorporation none of the players would agree to use the largest municipality's name for the joint effort and so the tax co-operative was named for a local tourist attraction: the Happy Valley Ranch. Although now rebuilt as a federally funded national heritage site, the ranch house had been built in the 1890s as a second-generation cattle baron's imitation of an English country manor, acquired a rather different cultural status during prohibition, and been razed to the ground in an uprising of the local moral majority in 1957.

In the 12 years since its 1988 start-up, the tax authority has acquired duties that go beyond simple property tax assessment and collection. One town has a hotel room tax, another provides school tax credits for couples with two or more children, while a third has an industrial land development program with both rebate and tax relief schemes to attract tenants. Today, the authority collects 32 different levies from about 45,000 taxpayers. It administers eight rebate, direct support, or tax relief programs, and collects tolls on one bridge and two park entrances."

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