I've never met a bandwagon I didn't like, so when Speranza's latest challenge extravaganza - "April is the cruelest month" - Tax Shelters: A Countdown to April 15th" - appeared on the LiveJournal scene, I had to make a contribution. Tax deductable, of course.
Harry Potter and the Tax Seminar of Doom
by Beth H
(c) March 2003
Edna Winston gave her long-yellowed seminar notes a final, cursory glance, then looked up at the men and women who had assembled for the Fictional Characters Association's thirty-second annual Tax Workshop. "All right, ladies and gentlemen, . . . ."
"Terribly sorry, Mr. . . . Lupin, is it? Ladies, gentlemen, and werewolves, I'd like to welcome you on behalf of your union to this year's special session for British Fictional Characters who are inexplicably forced to pay U.S. taxes. As always, coffee, tea, and pumpkin juice is available at the back of the hall. Now, I thought we'd begin this year's workshop with a brief Question and Answer period, so if any of you have any . . . ."
"Dependent children," interrupted a tall, imposing figure in black. "How many of the insufferable brats am I allowed to claim on this year's return? Ouch!"
"Don't you dare refer to either of us as 'dependent children,' Severus Snape," snapped the brown-haired girl sitting to his left, as she prodded him sharply in the ribs with her wand. "You know full well that by the time either of us have enough of a 'relationship' with you for you to claim us as anything, we'll already be adults."
"Well, actually, Hermione . . . "
"Do shut up, Harry," she hissed. " Do you want us to be inundated with Cease and Desist orders . . . again?"
"Oh, right. Sorry."
The dark-robed wizard glowered at his two charges, then turned his glare to Miss Winston. "As I was saying, will I, in fact, be able to claim either or both of them as dependents, or will they continue to be valueless thorns in my side for the foreseeable future?"
Harry shook his head and muttered, "Thorn in his side. That's not what he was saying last night. Thorn. Hah! And it damned well wasn't in his . . . side."
Miss Winston looked down at her notes. "No, I'm sorry, Professor Snape. To satisfy the authorities, both children, would, in fact, have to be your legal dependents at the time of filing. All right, who's next? Perhaps the red-headed gentleman in the back row?"
"Bill Weasley, ma'am."
Miss Winston sighed. "Ah, yes, Mr. Weasley. I remember you from last year and the year before that. The answer's never going to change. Next? Headmaster Dumbledore, isn't it?"
"Indeed it is, Miss Winston," he replied, his eyes twinkling merrily over his half-moon glasses, as was expected of him in all but the most dire of circumstances. He sighed, and the twinkle faded from his eyes. "Although it pains me to raise this question, I'm afraid we shall all soon have need to know whether social security survivor benefits are considered taxable income."
"Oh dear." She thumbed through her notes for a moment, then turned back to the Hogwarts headmaster with a frown. "Has there . . . I don't seem to have any record of . . . right, I'll just ask then, shall I? Has there been . . . a recent death about which I have yet to be informed?"
"Oh, no indeed, my dear," Albus assured her. "Or rather, not yet. Alas, Sibyl Trelawney has had a vision that the fifth book promises to be less than kind where one as-yet-unknown member of our happy association is concerned."
"Ah! The fifth book, is it? Well, Headmaster, as The Order of the Phoenix won't be released until June 21st, all questions of survivors benefits will need to be deferred until next year's filing."
Albus beamed. "Thank you, my dear, for clearing that up."
"You're very welcome, Headmaster." She scanned the room. "The big black dog with its paw raised in the . . . oh, terribly sorry, Mr. Black. You didn't look yourself for a moment."
"Think nothing of it, Miss Winston. Now . . . I believe I may have asked this question once or twice in previous years, but . . . it's about the issue of joint filing."
Miss Winston sighed. "Mr. Black, I have twelve years worth of inquiries from Azkaban in my files, but I'm afraid the answer is still no. Until the marriage laws change, you and Mr. Lupin must continue to file separate tax returns."
"But the wizarding world . . . ."
"For Merlin's sake, Mr. Black!" Exasperation was clear in her voice. "You're not a stupid man. You know full well that the laws of the wizarding world aren't relevant when it comes to paying U.S. taxes."
A familiar hand darted up from the left side of the room.
"No, no, no! Moving to a different part of the room and transfiguring yourself to look like a goblin is all very well and good, but no matter how often you ask, Mr. Weasley, it will make no difference. You will just have to inform your employers at Gringotts that they are going to incur great financial penalties once again if they insist on paying their corporate taxes in knuts, sickles, and galleons."
"Honestly, what is wrong with you people . . . um . . . you people and other things? Don't any of you remember the words of your very own 'Wizard of Electricity' - Benjamin Franklin - who said 'Nothing is certain but death and taxes?'"
"That is a lie!" hissed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named from the back of Miss Winston's head.
Miss Winston scowled. "I'll thank you not to interfere when I'm working, Tom." She slipped the silk scarf from her neck and fastened it tightly around her head, muffling the words of her unwelcome companion.
"Ladies and gentlemen . . . death may not be certain, but taxes most assuredly are. I think this is a good time to take a short break, after which will be the first of our guest lectures, entitled "Harsh New Penalties for Late Filing" which will be presented by Mr. A. Dementor."
Chit chat, Critiques, Gratuitous Praise: Beth H
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