Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return Helpline

taxes-scifi-story

by Caroline M. Yoachim

"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, how can I help you?"

"We are <untranslatable> collective. We file jointly or separately?"

"How many US citizens do you have in your collective?"

"Three hundred fifty-two of us are citizens, yes. Bob is not."

"Are you married, as defined by US law?"

"We are three hundred fifty-two conscious entities melded into one harmonious being for over five thousand years, and also Bob. This is marriage?"

"It is not. You will need to file separate returns for each of your three hundred fifty-two citizens. Bob does not need to file."

"This is unfortunate. Bob will be greatly displeased to be excluded in this way."

. . .

"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, how can I help you?"

"What form for taxes?"

"The form for filing an off-planet return is Form 9099B. This form is for US citizens currently residing off planet, including those residing on space shuttles, orbital stations, lunar or planetary colonies, and/or inside the intestinal system of Effluvian space worms. If you reside inside an Effluvian space worm that is currently located on Earth, you are allowed to fill out Form 1040."

"No, what form for currency of taxes?"

"The IRS will generally accept foreign currencies in situations where Earth currency cannot reasonably be obtained. To submit your tax payment in a non-Earth currency, fill out Form X-325Z and include your payment with your tax return. In responding to this question, I am required by law to inform you that it is illegal to staple, glue, tape, or otherwise affix sentient currency to your tax return."

"The IRS prefers sentient currency to run loose inside envelope?"

"We have covered everything I know about this topic, is there anything else I can help you with?"

. . .

tax-fiction"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline--"

<untranslatable screaming>

<static>

. . .

"This is Carla at--"

"Hi Carla, this is Bob."

"What can I help you with today, Bob?"

"I'm lonely."

"That is beyond the scope of my expertise. Do you have any tax related questions that I can help you with today?"

"You spoke with a different voice of my collective today, and told us that we each must file a separate return. Except me. This makes me lonely."

"Privacy laws do not allow me to discuss conversations I've had with other callers. How did you manage to get my extension? There are over five hundred tax assistants working through this call center, and call assignment is randomized."

"If you marry me, can I file a tax return?"

"I'm sorry, but I need to end this call now."

. . .

"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, how can I help you?"

"What is FBAR?"

"FBAR stands for Foreign Bank Account Report, but most off-planet residents refer to this form as FUBAR. It is not possible to fill this form out correctly. This form collects basic information on foreign financial accounts controlled by US citizens and is sent to the Treasury Department. It will not impact your tax liability, but does give the Treasury Department direct access to your funds, which will be used in the highly likely event of an audit."

"I have mesh bag of golden snakes, does this require FBAR?"

"FBAR is required for bank accounts, brokerage accounts, mutual funds, and any collection of sentient or non-sentient currency located outside of the United States. There is one exception for live currencies--US citizens may keep up to fifty creatures of any kind as pets. A creature may be considered a pet if it lives in the primary residence of the person filing the return."

"So if snakes stay in house with me, I do not write them onto form?"

"As long as there are less than fifty."

"I will eat the extras. Thank you."

. . .

"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, how can I help you?"

"Why will you not marry Bob?"

<click>

. . .

"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, how can I help you?"

"There is a large green creature with many teeth gnawing through the outer dome of my lunar residence."

"Do you owe back taxes?"

"Yes."

"The creature is a Tarmandian Spacemite, trained by the IRS to collect from delinquent off-planet taxpayers. I am legally required to tell you at this point in the conversation that attempting to run from a Tarmandian Spacemite is illegal and will trigger the Spacemite's predatory instincts. Try to remain calm, and let the Spacemite take anything it wants."

"I only owe three hundred dollars in back taxes. It will cost me ten times that much to repair the damage to my dome. Isn't there some way to get the creature to go away?"

"I'm sorry, we have covered everything I know about this topic, is there anything else I can help you with?"

. . .

tax-fiction"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, how can I help you?"

"Bob is coming for you."

<click>

. . .

"This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline, what can I do for you?"

"SCREW YOU IRS I'M NOT GOING TO FILE!"

"I hope you were smart enough to call from an untraceable number. If not, I am legally required to tell you at this point in the conversation that attempting to run from a Tarmandian Spacemite is illegal and will trigger the Spacemite's predatory instincts. Try to remain calm, and let the Spacemite take anything it wants."

. . .

"This is Carla--oh my god, there's some kind of alien rampaging through the call center. It looks like a dismembered grizzly bear that didn't get put back together quite right, and… it's holding hands with a guy in a tuxedo."

<muffled screaming>

"You help with mine taxes?"

"Please hold while we handle this emergency. The SWAT team is here with tranquilizer guns--"

<gunshots>

<click>

<overly loud ’80s music>

"Your call is important to us. Please stay on the line for the next available representative."

<overly loud ’80s music>

"Thank you for holding. This is Carla at the Off-Planet Tax Return helpline. I am legally required to inform you that three hundred fifty-two members of the <untranslatable> collective are listening in on this call for training purposes. The IRS requires that they provide fifty-seven thousand, eight hundred twenty-two hours of service at this call center to avoid criminal charges for the destruction of government property. Please do not be distressed by their wailing. They are mourning the liberation of Bob, who has been extradited to his home planet, where he will never again feel lonely. How can I help you?”

~~~~

About the Author

Caroline M. Yoachim lives in Seattle and loves cold cloudy weather. She is the author of dozens of short stories, appearing in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Clarkesworld, Asimov's, and Lightspeed, among other places. Her debut short story collection, Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories, is coming out with Fairwood Press in 2016.

This story originally appeared in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3 anthology.

Recent Publications

Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station, Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0 (Lightspeed Magazine, March 2016)

You Are Not the Hero of this Story (Daily Science Fiction, March 31, 2016)

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Love, Death (Lightspeed Magazine, November 2015)

Betty and the Squelchy Saurus (Fireside, October 2015)

Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories (Fairwood Press, August 2016)

World's Shortest Author Interview

If penguins invented a different mode of transportation, what would it be, and why are they not content with all the nice ice slides we have provided for them?

It turns out I am actually a penguin, so I know the answer to this question!  While we penguins are grateful for the lovely ice slides that you have provided, we long for a greater connection with our fellow birds.  We do not want to give up our connection with the water, but we desperately want to soar in the air.  The answer is clear:  what we need is flying submarines.

What's your favorite imaginary emotion?

There's an emotion in Portuguese called saudade, which doesn't translate well into English, but A.F.G. Bell described it as "a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness."

My favorite imaginary emotion is similar to that feeling--except sprinkled with cinnamon, and slightly more turquoise in color.

About the Artist

Unsplash (England) and Stefan Schweihofer (Germany) are Pixabay users and talented shutterbugs.

Our very own D Chang is a designer and game writer from Austin, Texas. His short fiction has appeared in Avast, Ye Airships! and the Cryptopolis science fiction anthology. He does the Space Squid cover designs and other squid stuff.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Featured Fiction