From the up-coming urban fantasy collection, to be released later this month.
Morgana gave Smiley a warning look as Dolores threw herself into the chair beside them and groaned. “Dare I ask?” Dolores’s Eurasian eagle-owl, Isabeau, spread her wings. Morgana ducked to the side.
“Neither Cinders nor Isabeau like the rain because we can’t let them out. New grass seed at the neighbor’s place. And Patrick is in the last-chapter push. At least, I hope he is. Otherwise he died in his office and there’s a revenant poking at the computer and snarling about foot-notes and conclusions and conflict theory.” Dolores straightened up in the chair and ran a hand over Isabeau. “The food disappears and I hear sounds from the office, but Cinders isn’t talking.”
“We should all be so blessed,” Jaramillo sighed as he came in, an enormous overstuffed folder under one arm and Dog the Iguana on his shoulder. Dog had headphones on and was either rocking out or having serious balance problems. The warlock thumped the papers onto the table, lifted Dog off his shoulder and onto the stack, and sat. “Dog discovered Midnight Oil and started chanting along.”
Dolores leaned around Morgana. “You prefer Nirvana?”
Jaramillo flashed a warding off sign at her. Smiley sniffed and Morgana thought she heard either “barbarians” or “plebeians.” Probably the latter. “Are Merddyn and Mallory coming?”
“I don’t know. Jamie Macbeth is, because he has at least two familiars that are checking him out, or so I’ve heard,” Dolores replied. Isabeau nodded three times. “Three familiars.”
“So much for his oft-repeated claims that he’s not a mage or warlock,” Jaramillo snorted, arms crossed.
A new voice interjected, “He might not be.” The trio turned to see Merddyn coming into the room, on crutches, with a few unfamiliar faces trailing behind. “Krimhilde’s not coming. She doesn’t claim the ferrets. And Officer Macbeth could be a key-null, like Dr. Lewis.”
Jaramillo stood up and moved the chairs so Merddyn could maneuver in and sit. As he did, he whistled silently. “Hmm. Hadn’t thought about that.” He nodded toward Merddyn’s cast. “What happened?”
“Bad luck at work. The flooring on that big restoration house is a lot worse than we thought. Lots, lots worse. It gave way under me and I landed in the cellar. Busted the ankle. Mallory’s not happy. My other boss is not happy, either.” Merddyn shrugged. “The realtor’s insurance is covering everything, including my down time, since it was his spell that concealed the state of the floor-boards. Seems he didn’t put a time-cap on it.”
“Oh damn,” the other three groaned. Isabeau covered her eyes with one wing. Morgana inquired, “And you told the realtors’ council I take it?”
“Nope. That’s why his insurance is paying for everything.” Merddyn looked smug. “Wonderful thing, blackmail.” Then he sobered. “Yes, we told them.”
A rather tweedy-looking man with a bald-spot bustled into the room, set papers down onto the front table, and disappeared. If anyone was born to be an accountant, Morgana thought yet again, it was Alan Cypher. He had to be the reason stereotypes existed. Alan returned with a set of thinner folders, which he handed out to the assembled witches, mages, warlocks, and others, and a large take-out cup from the Tea Tank. “Officer Macbeth is running late and told me to start,” Alan announced. “Traffic accident at Cumberland Circle.” He paused. “Again.”
“So.” Alan dimmed the lights and turned on a projector. “This is about tax changes for those claiming magic-related deductions and expenses, notably familiar care and housing. As you know, there have been some developments, some good for those looking for a little relief, not so good in other ways. The good news is that the lair-deduction remains in place this year. However, you still must provide proof of lair-use in one of the five forms shown on the top page in your folder.” Morgana read off of Dolores’s copy. She didn’t use lair deductions, but it was good to keep abreast of what was in and out. “Notice the change for cross-dimensional lairs. If you are claiming the full lair area, you must document it in writing with a diagram that is readable by non-mage agents.” He stopped as sighs rose from the back of the room. “If you only claim the portal, you do not have to provide a drawing. Be careful about home office deductions though, because Rimly County is tightening up on zoning and home offices.”
“Alan, what about furnishings? I don’t see the quality deduction listed,” a voice asked from behind Morgana.
“The polished granite mantelpiece Fydeaux insisted on having. I tried a compromise material with a faux finish and he balked.”
“You’ll need to check the revision that comes out next week. Materials changes are supposed to be included,” Aland said, making a note to himself. “Oh, bones are also deductible, but if you go high end, you absolutely must have your familiar sign a notarized form explaining why. Having your thaumato-vet sign on as well is really helpful if he or she is willing to do so.”
Morgana wrote that down. The import and shipping fees on some of Smiley’s roadkill favorites were increasing, and this might be something to look into.
“Alan, is the deduction for extra-planar sourcing still valid?”
“I’m sorry, Jill, it is not. It was removed after too much abuse. Personally, I think it was because of the constant confusion over if it was a travel deduction or the higher familiar care deduction, so they just eliminated it, but that is strictly my guess,” Alan said. “On that line, are any of you planning to deduct for house-spirit offerings? If you are not a neo-pagan, don’t bother. The IRS judge ruled last week that you must,” he pointed at the table for emphasis. “Must have a receipt for all deductions, and a registered familiar or guardian spirit. House spirits do not count unless you are a neo-pagan and have filed as such for the past four years.” Groans came from at least one person, including Merddyn. “Sorry folks, I just relay the message. Any more questions on the familiar care deduction?”
No one voiced any.
“Robes are not deductible. We’ve assumed that for quite a while, but Medea vs. US back in August of last year codified it. Since they are not necessary for the actual functioning of spells and cantrips once you pass student rank, they are non-deductible.”
“Dang it,” Collin’s voice rose from the back of the room. “Why did she even bother? She’s a skyclad practitioner, she said it in the press briefing! There would have been a lot better choices to test the rule.”
Alan straightened his jacket and nodded. “No argument here. I hope her lawyer doesn’t present her with too large of a bill, because her accountant certainly will.” He stopped and sipped his iced tea. “So robes are non-deductible to full practitioners. Do not try to slip them in, at least this year. The IRS will be looking closely at that.” More mutters but Dolores and Morgana shrugged. Jaramillo took some notes and shook his finger at Dog. Dog, eyes closed, seemed to be not-quite-dancing to something reggae, judging by his rhythm.
A new slide appeared on the screen. “So, to reacp. Veterinary care, food, and some housing are deductible for professional magic workers with certified familiars. If you are a mage but work in a different field, you may have some problems, although Merddyn, your child-care deduction is still valid, before you ask. At least this year it is.”
“Thanks be.” Merddyn wrote quickly. “That’s a big help.”
Alan smiled. “You have my sympathies.”
“Thanks. Rose means well, but she still startles easily.”
Alan changed slides, “Which brings me to the next changes, cleaning and repair.” He stopped talking and pointed to the fourth item with a large stick.
Groans rose, followed by “Hey, wait, how can they disallow that? That is the single biggest expense for mages-in-training.”
“Probably for that very reason. You have to take it as the two percent education deduction, not the seventy-five percent critical business category.” Alan raised his hands and Morgana saw a little shimmer as he activated a defensive cantrip. “I’m just the messenger, ladies and gentlemen and familiars. No more post-spell cleaning deduction.”
Morgana started to protest when her, Dolores’s, and Jaramillo’s phones all buzzed.
To Be Continued …
(C) 2017 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved.