Niles Gule’s eyes, normally a brilliant blue, smoldered yellow when they read the notice. Being a vampire, his gaze could be icy, but he was not as heartless as his brethren. He’d lived too many years amongst humans to remain aloof, so that wintry blue could soften if he let it. When he grew angry, however, the color shifted. The brighter the yellow, the angrier the vampire. His eyes that evening glowed like a bonfire.
“That sonofabitch ratted me out,” he complained. He thrust the paper at his partner, Mariella Cruz.
Lifting a quizzical brow, the perky little Latina accepted the notice.
“You’re being audited by the IRS?” She handed the paper back. “I guess into even a perfect life a little rain must fall.”
Although Niles adored his partner, he couldn’t stop from curling his lip to brandish his fangs at her. “This isn’t funny.” He sat back in his chair and muttered curses in Vanapir. “It’s Williams. Payback for my April Fool’s prank.”
Cruz shut down her computer. As she gathered her purse from a drawer, she said, “That’s what the two of you get for playing games on each other. They ratchet up. One of these days, someone’s going to get hurt.” She huffed at the sight of the disgruntled vampire. “Come on, Niles! It’s just an audit. Man up and deal with it.”
Niles shot her a heated glance. “It’s not that simple. I don’t have a social security number. I’ve never filed a single tax return. I’m not in their system at all.”
Cruz shouldered her bag. Tapping the notice, she said, “then I suggest you come up with something in a hurry.”
Annoyed at her cavalier attitude, and enraged at Williams’ joke, Niles snatched up the notice and followed her from the precinct, wondering all the while how he would weasel his way out of this latest predicament.
The Internal Revenue Service held forth in Baltimore in the George H Fallon Federal Building, a nondescript concrete bunker on Hopkins Plaza within walking distance of Niles’ apartment on Lombard Street. The vampire squinted at it from behind nearly black sunglasses while he fought off yawn after yawn. In typical bureaucratic style, the agency didn’t bother to understand he worked the night shift. His appointment with Raymundo D Colon-Santiago demanded his appearance in person on a Tuesday at 2pm.
The guards at security whisked Niles through with relative ease given he carried only his cell phone and tablet computer. Then they directed him to the elevators and the tenth floor.
That far above the city the space echoed with awesome silence, all extraneous noise being consumed by the piles of paper that inhabited the building. Niles’ sensitive ears picked up the soft trill of distant phones ringing, the whoosh of the air handling system, and the buzz of quiet conversation, but the floor was amazingly hushed. Even the carpet muted his footfalls as he navigated the maze of corridors until he found the audit department.
Like most Americans, Niles envisioned the IRS as a giant inhuman machine manned by bookish gnomes that saw even less daylight than a vampire. He expected Raymundo D Colon-Santiago to be small, elderly and nearsighted. When the man rose from behind the conference table and extended his hand to greet his next auditing victim, Niles was forced to reassess. Raymundo was as tall as Niles and thin, but the silk of his white dress shirt spoke of taut muscles hiding below. His skin was the warm brown of walnut, his hair black, lustrous and neatly shorn in a fashionable cut. He didn’t wear glasses and didn’t have a pocket protector full of pens. His handshake was strong, firm and challenging.
He didn’t flick an eyelash when his warm hand met the vampire’s icy one.
“Have a seat,” he said, motioning to a chair in the conference room.
Niles sank slowly into an uncomfortable, wire and plastic device while Raymundo lounged in a padded leather seat.
“So, Mr. Gule,” he opened. “We appear to have a problem. I’ve done some digging and come to the conclusion that you’ve never filed a tax return. Ever.” His dark eyes swept over Niles, calculating age and socioeconomic status. “I would assume a man of your years and apparent wherewithal must have received some type of taxable income over the years. Would you care to explain?”
Good old Raymundo had hit the problem head on.
Niles had been born in 1858 in Boston of aristocratic parents. During his many decades of life, he’d traveled the world and accumulated a level of wealth that allowed him to live comfortably. He’d come by none of it honestly, he was ashamed to say. Before arriving in Baltimore only a handful of years ago, Niles had lived the life of a typical vampire. He’d slept through the daylight hours in dark holes far from prying human eyes, only emerging after the sun went down. Then he’d begin hunting for his next meal. Which was generally human beings. After he’d killed someone and consumed their blood, he rifled their pockets and stole whatever they possessed. Being smarter than most of his fellows, Niles eventually learned that wealthy, elderly, lonely people made great targets. Too frail to fight off a vampire, their disappearances often going unnoticed for days, they were perfect fodder. He would search their houses for hidden valuables. Ultimately, he learned the fine art of stealing their identities and all their investments. He’d done well over the years. His portfolio was the envy of his financial planner. None of it had ever been on the IRS radar.
Niles had spent the last three days trying to come up with a plausible explanation for great wealth without income.
“I inherited money from my parents overseas,” he said. “I live off their investments in Switzerland.”
Raymundo tapped his fingers on the table. “That’s nice.” His sharp gaze didn’t flinch nor did his face give his thoughts away. “You reside in the United States, correct?”
“You’re a citizen, I presume?”
Not seeing much point in denying that, Niles replied, “Yes.”
“Then it’s my duty to explain to you that you must report income from all sources outside the U.S. This is true whether or not you receive a W-2, a 1099 or a Swiss equivalent.”
“Oh.” It was the only word Niles could think to say.
Raymundo continued, his face impassive. “Failing to report foreign source income is a crime, Mr. Gule. You could face serious consequences if we determine you have unreported income or undisclosed foreign financial accounts. These consequences can include not only the additional taxes, but also penalties, interest, fines and even imprisonment.”
Niles swallowed. He didn’t like the sound of that.
Raymundo spread his hands. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me, Mr. Gule?”
Niles scratched his chin. Trying to wriggle out of of the foreign investments idea would just make him look bad. And it was the best lie he could come up with. The rest were worst. That left him no other choice but to use his nuclear option.
He fixed his eyes firmly on Raymundo’s. He softened his gaze and sent mesmerizing messages across the tiny gap between them. All vampires possessed the skill to bewitch their prey. He could fill Raymundo’s head with all sorts of ideas, including forcing the agent to forget he’d ever heard of Niles Gule.
Raymundo gazed steadily back.
Niles blinked. It wasn’t working! What the hell?
He doubled down.
Raymundo glared back.
Realizing he was losing the battle of the batting eyes, Niles pulled his last and final trick. He bared his fangs, letting them drip saliva onto the tabletop.
Still, Raymundo held his ground.
“I’m a vampire!” Niles exclaimed, growing frustrated. “Fear me, damn you!”
Raymundo lifted his chin. “This is the IRS. We don’t fear anything. Even vampires.”
Niles slumped, stunned. “Seriously?”
Raymundo lifted a brow.
Niles tried a simple smile. “What do you think I owe you?”
Raymundo faked an equally quick smile. “Failure to file a return suspends the statute of limitations. Therefore, regulations allow me to recalculate your income from the first time you failed to file, which would be the first year that the federal income tax was enacted in 1913.”
The smile that curved Raymundo’s lips became genuine. “An appropriate response. You’re going to owe a shit ton of taxes, Mr. Gule. Today’s my lucky day!”
Wilted, Niles considered his options. Conning Raymundo was off the table. Niles doubted he’d succeed in killing the fellow and getting away with it. That left him with few alternatives.
Finally, heaving a sigh, he asked, “Do you have a payment plan?”
(c) 2019 Newmin
Niles comments: It’s Tax Due Day! Have you filed your taxes?
If you need assistance in meeting your tax obligations, the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program is here to help. Visit VITA for information about services in your area. https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers