Death & Taxes

by Raphtalia

First published

Of all the ways Filthy Rich expected to come face to face with Death itself, he'd never expected it to be over a small issue of tax fraud.

In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

~Benjamin Franklin

Of all the ways Filthy Rich expected to come face to face with Death itself, he'd never expected it to be over a small issue of tax fraud. After spending hours with the grim reaper rattling off tax code to him like some sort of unholy accountant, Filthy couldn't help but wish for the Death he'd envisioned.

Death & Taxes

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- Death & Taxes -

It was a beautiful summer day and already I hated it. Not that the weather was bad, mind you, but I had a bit of a problem. A hooded problem, with a huge scythe leaning against the wicker chair behind him and a dripping fountain pen in his bony hand, to be exact.

“And then carry the fourth digit over to the fifth, and that should fill spot 37a. My, my, Mr. Rich. You're even farther behind on these forms than we thought."

Every business pony has their moment where they forget to file their quarterly tax forms and end up with the Equestrian Revenue Service breathing down their neck. I always knew that an agent would come knocking on my door one day, especially after some of my paperwork lapses the year before. It's just that I'd always expected the agent to come wearing an official-looking uniform, not a black cowl.

"Now if we move on to the next section, we need to discuss any profits made off of your IRA," Death said. He turned over a sheet of paper, the grating sounds of his bones rubbing against each other drowning out the sound of shuffling paper. "You've been making quite a lot of unclaimed revenue off of your investment portfolio this year, and the dividends have been good." Death looked up at me, his face impassive. "Deadly good, in fact. Your bank statements claim that you've made nearly five million bits in the last year alone, though your tax paperwork only claimed half of that."

"It was a slip-up, easily corrected."

"Hmm, indeed. That's why I'm here, Mr. Rich. I'd hope for your sake that this was all just an accident and isn't something that we'll have to discuss again next year. Now if you'll sign this audit form on line three, we can settle the first part of the investigation."

I swallowed the thick glob of spittle I'd gathered in my mouth. Death stared at me unblinking, holding out a pen as he waited for me to sign the paper. I took it into my mouth, trying to ignore the putrid flavor and pungent odor his deceased hands lent it. As I signed my name on the ledger, I couldn't help but notice the bloodred ink flowing from the pen's tip. My eyes locked on with Death's empty sockets, and a strong chill ran down my spine.

"Is that?"

"Blood, Mr. Rich? Close, but not entirely. It is the life fluid of past felons who failed to pay their dues. It's much closer to the ichor your mythology describes than the blood in your mortal veins. We extract it anytime someone commits the sin of fraud."

"Is it painful?"

"Extracting it?"

I nodded.

"Well, I don't know if 'painful' is quite the right word. No, I'm afraid words like 'excruciating' and 'utterly unbearable' are a bit more like it," Death said, tapping his chin. "In fact, I can recall more than a few people begging for the sweet release of Death before we were through. Oh, the irony."

I could barely breathe. Everything around me seemed tighter, more finely woven. As for Death, he didn't seem to mind. He carried on flipping through my files as if nothing had been said between us.

"Now that we've settled that, let's look over your secondary forms. It has also come to our attention that you didn't pay your local provincial taxes last year. Given that you'd paid a large sum of money every year leading up to this one, I'd have to assume that you knew what you were doing

“Look, Mr. Death. I’m glad for all of the help you’re offering, but I can file my own tax forms just fine.”

“You’re in no position to argue with me, Mr. Rich. You’re tens of thousands of bits behind on your tax payments and I won’t rest until you’ve paid it. In full.” Death gave me a withering look over his glasses. Not that he had much in his eye sockets to glare at me with, but it's the thought that counts. “Now if we can move on to step 38b, we can make this as painless as possible. Your 1040a submission form from last year was insufficient to cover all of the forms of income you pulled and it's come to our attention that you have a vast sum of secondary income earned through--”

“I’m well aware of that, Mr. Death, sir.”

“Are you sure about that? If so, then why wasn’t this filled out earlier?”


"We assumed that the reason you lapsed in your payments was due to an oversight." Death reached up with a bony hand and adjusted his glasses before leaning forward. The closer he grew, the more aware I became of just how much he towered over me. "If this wasn't an oversight and you're really as competent as you claim to be, then I'm afraid that I must report your actions to the crown as being... malicious." Death stressed the last word, careful to enunciate every syllable. While his mouth hadn't moved during the entire exchange, I could imagine him smirking at me.

I tried to think up a clever response. I could come up with any number of insults to Death's character, the Equestrian monarchy, or the gross mismanagement of funding that the government pulled on a daily basis. But that wouldn't help me out of this situation. I was boned, pun definitely intended, and I wasn't about to incriminate myself over something that I could settle financially without putting so much as a dent in my wallet. As long as he hadn't figured out about the money laundering scheme I was running out of Gryphonstone, there wouldn't be any major issue.

“Silence, Mr. Rich? It becomes you. Now moving on to section 39a in regards to child support and…”

I’d often imagined how a meeting with Death would go. Pleading for my life, regretting past mistakes, or accepting the finality of it all came to mind. What I never realized was just how boring Death could really be. As I watched the skeletal figure thumb his way through my fraudulent tax forms, empty eye sockets clearly scanning every line for any possible illegality, I couldn’t help but wish it’d been one of the former.

- Fin -