Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2) The Maiden and the Tax Collector

Once upon a time, there was a Fair Maiden.

            One day, a Tax Collector, Sam, came aknocking on her door.  The Fair Maiden kept the chain on the door when she peered through the crack to greet Sam.  Sam told her that he was her uncle, and that she must pay taxes.

         The Fair Maiden apologized, and asked him if she could have more time to pay her taxes.  Sam grimaced but consented, and told her that she had 40 days to do so.  The Maiden was a little nervous because she had heard news, and stories from friends, about big bad wolves coming to the door and threatening to huff and puff and blow their houses down if they did not pay their taxes.  But she took Sam at his word.

The Maiden quickly set about making a list and organizing herself so that she could figure out how much tax she must pay.  She knew that a Judge of the Land had said that there were rules, but that no one must pay more than their fair share.

First, the Maiden called her Trusted Family Advisor.  He gave her a list of the basic items that she should organize.  He told her that afterward, he would help her do the rest.

So the Fair Maiden set about her chores.

First, she made a list of her income.  It was somewhat easy since almost everyone who paid her had given her a note of how much.  Not only had she earned income from work, but she also had saved a little, so she earned interest on her savings.  She had also invested in a friend’s bakeshop in town.  The bakery was turning a tidy profit, and yielded her a nice little dividend.  Finally, she sold a pig for a profit and she listed it, too.  She had once overheard a fat merchant in town doing such a thing - albeit on a much grander scale, a capital gain.  She knew that she invested her ‘capital’ in the pig and concluded that her capital had gained value.  She was very proud of herself for both understanding the concept and for having made a profit!

Next, she set about making a list of the money she spent on the things that the people of her land valued most: health, a home, helping others with losses - like if her house burned or she was robbed -, charity, some of the money she spent for her work, and money she spent on paying others to help her with her money, and figuring out how much tax she must pay!  She also made a list of the taxes that she had to pay other tax collectors, because she knew that if she told Sam, he would have to allow her to deduct some it from what she must pay him!

She thought, “I think I’m ready.  I must call my Trusted Family Advisor and tell him that I am ready to meet for the next step.”  And she did.

Her Trusted Family Advisor came to visit at the appointed time, bringing his abacus, a small chalkboard and his very fine timepiece.  She served him tea and cakes from the bakery and they sat to review her efforts.

“Very fine organizing”, he smiled and said.  Then they talked about each item and some more.  The Maiden learned a lot; she asked many questions.  Her Trusted Family Advisor, patiently explained all of the answers, even the ones that she thought were ignorant and was scared to ask.  When they each had answered all of the other’s questions, the Trusted Family Advisor took her work with him to do some calculations - but not before she wrapped a few more of the fine baked goods from the bakery.

A few days later, her Trusted Family Advisor, again, called upon her with a few more questions.  A few days after that, he returned triumphantly, and told her how much tax he calculated she must pay.  She thanked him profusely, and paid him a fee for such a fine job.

She was so excited and so proud that she told closest friends, and they all wanted to meet him.

Soon, Sam came aknocking on her door again.  She was very confident about opening the door wide, announcing what amount of tax she owed and then dropping the coins into his open hand.  He just watched.  And then he smiled.  He said not a word, and just turned around and walked away.

After some three years went by, she had never again heard from Sam, the Tax collector, so she knew she never would.  And she lived happily ever after!

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