A map of the greater metropolitan area of Denver, Colorado, looks like a puzzle. Imagine each separate area as its own splash of color. None of the pieces are precisely square or rectangular; their edges are jagged, jutting out and cutting back in, with razor thin peninsulas. Some pieces are minuscule. It is not an easy puzzle to assemble.

Now imagine that each splash of color is its own tax jurisdiction. Then pinch yourself, because that’s reality.

Each different colored piece of the puzzle has its own rate of sales tax. Even the teeny tiny pieces, which can be the size of a city block, have a rate that’s different from the surrounding neighborhood. For example:

  • The orange piece = 7.62%
  • The little blue bite out of that orange piece = 4.25%
  • The purple piece that slides against the orange = 8.5%
  • The teeny tiny purple piece is surrounded by brown = 8%
  • The brown piece surrounding the tiny purple piece = 7%
  • The lime green piece that weaves its way through several other colors = 6.75%

And so on. I’d tell you more, but I got frustrated trying to put the *%#! puzzle together and threw it away.

A city whose sales tax rates are a puzzle—now that’s wacky.

Care to see for yourself? Type “Denver, Colorado” into the search bar on the widget below, hit the search button, and zoom in to see the wackiness.