Meanwhile at a desk not so far away

“So what’s been keeping you away?” Twilight Sparkle demanded.

“This,” I said, holding up a halfway-completed Form 1040.

A burst of magic snatched the paper from my hand, turned it over, returned it to me upside down. “It takes seventy-nine lines for a simple income-tax return?”

“You haven’t seen Schedule A yet,” I retorted. “And I can’t finish this form until I do that one.”

“And I thought Equestrian taxes were absurd,” said Twilight.

“Which they are,” piped up Applejack from the corner. “Canterlot takes darn near fifteen percent of all the bits we make.”

“I would dearly love to get away with paying just fifteen percent,” I said.

“What’s the rate here?” Twilight asked.

“It varies with how much you make. Starts at ten, finishes at thirty-nine point six.”

Rarity shook her head. “I suppose the care and feeding of nobles is expensive in any universe.”

“So is clothing ’em,” snapped Applejack, drawing a scowl from Rarity.

I sighed the sigh of a man suspecting he’s about to write a large check. “Anyway, I do thank you all for dropping by, but I really have to get to work on this thing. Next weekend, maybe?”

“Works for me,” said Twilight, and three ponies shimmered away into the night.

The fourth one, however, was still here. “Pinkie?”

“Well,” the pink pony said, “I thought that if this was a really terrible problem for you I could help you finish this thing and you won’t be so grumpy anymore.” She pointed a hoof at line 61. “Did you have health insurance all year?”

It figures, I thought. Only Pinkie Pie can understand the Internal Revenue Service.

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