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 Math Central Quandaries & Queries
 Question from Kenneth: Hello: Is a mill, as it pertains to property taxes, regarded as a unit of measure like a meter or an hour, etc? I am somewhat confused as to how 5.345 mills becomes \$0.05345. Usually mills are converted to dollars, but I'm not sure how this is done. I thank you for your reply and explanation.

A mill is a fictitious (non-minted) unit of currency equal to a tenth of a cent.

mill:per mil:millimeter:milligram:milliliter (etc)
::
cent:per cent:centimeter:centigram:centiliter (etc)

As far as I know it has never been minted either in the US or Canada, although in the early days of decimal currency it would have been worth significantly more than a cent is now.

Originally it was used in computing property taxes, etc, to allow a tax of (say) 0.3% to be expressed without decimals as "three mills on the dollar". However, as time went by, mill rates tended to become noninteger, especially when a decision was made to increase them by a fixed percentage or to set them to obtain a specified return.

RD

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