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Authors are basically considered self-employed.
All self-employed persons are to report their income and expenditures between January 1st and December 31st, affirm the total earnings. This is tax reporting.
The period of tax reporting would be in the following year, February 16th to March 15th, lasting for a year. Once this period expires, it's possible to report taxes, but there would be more money taxed.
Taking authors as example, once a book gets released and the publisher pays the fees, the royalties that was pre-taxed beforehand would be counted as earnings. (Anything under one million yen is taxed at 10%, while the rest that exceeds one million is taxed at 20%). Thus, when taxing reporting accurately, most authors would get tax rebates, unless they are bestselling authors.
Thus, no matter how troublesome it was, every author had to report their taxes so as to salvage their earnings.
However, it was really a massive job to sort out the earnings over an entire year and make a report.
It's possible to do so with hard work and not leave to others, but the most time-saving and reliable manner for tax-related matters would be to look for a tax expert.
This tax expert—would be a tax manager.
On a certain day in late February, a lady came to Hashima Itsuki's apartment.
She had a young—probably childish looking appearance. An estimate of her age, at best, would be around 15 years old.
She was a pretty girl with blond hair, white skin and emerald eyes, wearing a loose red Lolita dress.
Her appearance gave an adorable vibe, but her eyes were sharp, and her lips showed a cruel smile.
Ono Ashley, age unknown.
"Tax Manager Ono. Are you the client Hashima Itsuki?"
"Ahh…y-yeah. Please take care of me…"
Ashley spoke with an uppity tone, sizing up Itsuki while the latter stood on the corridor while looking as though she was weighing something; that left Itsuki really tense.
Having been an author for three years, this was the fourth time Itsuki had to report his tax. However, this year was the first time he hired a tax manager.
His first tax reporting occurred soon after he debuted, and back then, he only wrote one volume during the fiscal year, hardly had the habit of keeping his receipts, and thus had nothing much to write for his tax reports.
For the second and third time, Itsuki went to the internet to research, and filed his own reports, but over two consecutive years, he found mistakes in his calculations, and ended up having to file them again.
He worked so hard to file his taxes, yet the rebates he got was so pitifully little, and he lashed out, "I don't want to do this every year! I'll earn a lot more using that time to write my reports!" Thus, he had Haruto introduce a tax manager for him, and found Ono Ashley.
"Haruto, you know of any good tax manager?"
"…Good tax manager, as in, 'amazing tax manager'??"
"? What else do I mean then?"
"…No. If you want a great tax manager, I do have a suitable choice of person. Undoubtedly talented, and very reliable…it seems this person is rather impressed by your work, so I feel."
That was the conversation Itsuki had with Haruto. While there was some obvious intent in Haruto's words, Itsuki did not heed that.
Amongst self-employed people, authors were a unique and rare breed. Not all tax managers may understand the situations authors face.
But Ono Ashley was a tax manager adept at handling creative work, so it appeared that she was known as the premier person in the publishing world.
"Hmm….for a young man like you staying by yourself, your house is rather clean."
Ashley sat at the raised high-powered office chair Itsuki normally worked at in a matter of fact manner, and looked around the room as she commented.
"Ahh, thanks for the compliments…"
Itsuki was lost as to where he should be sitting, and chimed in with confusion.
"Now then, do you mind showing me your receipts?"
Itsuki had sorted out the publishing royalties and receipts from the publisher, the credit card details and invoices and other information according to month, and stored them in a clear file.
He handed the file over.
"…Hmm, so you sorted out the receipts according to month? That's a lot more orderly than I expected."
For some reason, Ashley showed a bored look as she noted this.
As to why they were sorted out so neatly, it was because of the little brother Chihiro always sorting them out, but Itsuki did not comment on that.
"Heh…you earn quite a fair bit."
Ashley commented as she stared at the receipts in the file,
"…Sorta, thanks to everyone."
And Itsuki, not knowing where to sit, could only stand up as he answered.
"No problems, you can find someplace else to sit."
Itsuki then sat down with mixed, inexplicable emotions.
"…Oh…so you do have records of your past tax filings…hmm…you're an author, but you have quite the stable income…even if I do sort this based on average taxation, there won't be much effect, if I'm to list this as a corporation however, the figures won't match up…"
Ashley muttered with a strangely delighted look, and Itsuki watched her worriedly.
"Oh yes. Is this apartment your official residence?" Ashley asked this sudden question.
"No, it's back home."
As his old home was within Tokyo city itself, Itsuki did not specify a change in residence when he moved into this apartment."
"Is it nearby?"
"…About twenty minutes by car."
"Yes, that great. This room is considered your workplace, right? In that case, about 90% of your rent can be counted as expense."
"Report 90% of my rent as tax…?"
"You rented this room just for work, and typically head home at night to sleep. This is usually the 'office' you work at, right?"
Ashley determined, and Itsuki was left dumbfounded.
"No, I stay in this apartment, usually…look, there's a bed."
"The bed's just for you to rest."
Ashley emphasized, not allowing any buts, and Itsuki could only give up on insisting.
"…I use the bed for rest. Normally, I'll head home to sleep."
"Right." Ashley nodded, and then,
"Did you buy any pricey items last year? Like a car or something?"
"…I didn't buy one. I bought this chair two years ago…ah, I remember I bought this laptop last year."
"You could have just bought a luxury foreign car."
"You got to be joking…or rather, I don't have a license."
While Itsuki let out a grimace, "Just kidding." Ashley gave a little chuckle.
"However, I do think you can splurge a little more. Compared to other self-employed people, novelists don't really need much capital. You know this, don't you?"
Other self-employed people will need goods before they could profit—like for example, a butcher, would need to purchase meat from a supplier. There are also regular expenditures like overheads, freezer installation and maintenance, and staff salaries.
For a mangaka, drawing materials pens, ink and draft papers are necessary materials, and even digital artists will require lots of expenditure to purchase a scanner and tablet, an image editing software, and a hi-specs computer. The largest expenditure however would come in the form of hiring assistants.
In contrast, a novelist simply needed a computer. All they needed to do was to type, so even a cheap old generation PC would fit the bill as long as it remained functional. A computer could last several years. Basically, there's no need to hire an assistant or a manager, and thus, there's no labor costs incurred.
On the 'bare minimum expenses required for the job' aspect, it's rare to see a job with such little barrier to entry like a novelist.
"How much you can add can be determined as necessary expenditure—this is the critical difference as to whether a tax manager is proficient. Of course, you have calculated all your book expenses, right?"
"Yeah." Itsuki nodded.
The initial investment into novels is very little.
However, (most of the time) it did not mean that one could easily write a book.
Simply put, creative writing is about straining out the things inside the head, so naturally, there had to be an output (most of the time).
It might be possible for one to write one or two books by sorting all the experiences gained in one's past. However, this alone would not be enough to maintain a writing standard capable to being a publishing good. (most of the time)
To have an output, one must have an input. (most of the time)
If one wants to write a certain historical figure, there's a need to check on relevant information; If it's to debut a certain specialized technique in the work, one will have to visit the expert; if there's a need to set the story at a certain place, there's a need to head there to obtain materials and so. This input, simply put, is the work to obtain the necessary information.
Such aforementioned examples were undoubtedly 'necessary expenses required to create a product', but while some expenses were not directly used on the product, they will still be deemed as necessary expenses.
Taking a novelist as example, basically, all novels are deemed as 'research material'.
To write, one has to browse through all kinds of novels. No matter the actual effects, this would be something most people could understand and agree it. If it was a book other than a novel—like manga and magazines, specialized books (that have nothing to do with the work), anything can basically be deemed as material.
Entertainment forms other than books are hard to determine though.
Like for example, music CDs, blu-ray DVDs, movies, plastic models, figurines, travel expenses that had nothing to do with the work…
When the tax department question "How is this used on work?", if the author's able to clearly specify an explanation, it will undoubtedly be deemed as expense. If the purpose remained unclear however, or if it's something bought out of personal interest, how would it be deemed as?
"Other than your books, how did you sort them out?"
"I just reported those stuffs I bought as materials as 'materials fees'."
"Really? How obedient." Ashley smirked.
"…I love corrupting such obedient kids."
"Eh? What did you just…"
"It's nothing." Ashley shook her head, and stood up from the chair.
Then, she slowly walked towards the cabinet with the figurines and plastic models.
"I have researched on your work before."
She stared at the figurines as she commented,
"Do you like little sisters?"
"I love them."
Ashley ignored the fact that Itsuki brazenly admitted his fetish, and pointed at a figure.
"I think I saw her before."
"She's the main heroine of Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, the little sister of the protagonist, Kousaka Kirino-sama. If you're able to recognize her, I guess Kirino-sama is really god-like…
"And what about the two little girls wearing cat ears and in swimsuits?"
"They're the main heroines of 'Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai', Hasegawa Kobato-sama, and Takayama Maria-sama."
"…I did remember seeing a movie synopsis, but are the heroines such young girls…? Well, that's not important…and this busty girl here?"
"First heroine of 'Sword Art Online', the protagonist's little sister, Kirigawa Suguha-sama."
"I do often interact with people in the publishing world, so I have heard of this Sword Art whatever work. It's about the protagonist being trapped in a game world or something, right? Did this girl show up?"
"This is her actual self in the real world, not inside the game."
"Oh…so the actual heroine's a busty girl."
Unfortunately, there was no one who could jump out and retort, "Like hell that's right! That SAO main heroine's a different girl!"
"…And this girl wearing a uniform?"
"She's the main heroine in 'K-On!', the little sister, Hirasawa Ui-sama."
"This work's very famous, so I do know about the main heroines in one, two works or so…and her?"
"Main heroine in 'Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ', the protagonist's little sister Elpie Ple-sama."
"So this gundam that looks like a fly is a little sister too?"
Ashley pointed at a red gunpla and a black gunpla placed by the side.
"That's Ple-sama's and her little sister Ple Two's unit, the Qubeley Mk-II. That's not called a gundam, it's a mobile suit."
"Aren't all anime robots called gundam anyway? What's the problem…anyway, it seems all the figurines you have here are related to little sisters, right?"
Ashley seemed bored of asking, and turned to question Itsuki, who nodded,
"Hmm. Then I suppose I can report all these as research materials."
Itsuki shrieked in protest, and Ashley frowned.
"…Why can't I?"
"Plastic models aside, these girls aren't research materials! I just bought them because I dote on them! I don't want to just classify them cruelly as 'research material'!"
"…They can be reported as such, right?"
With those blue eyes staring right at him, Itsuki shook his head timidly.
"Don't you want to try to reduce your taxes as much as possible?"
"Of course…but I can't belittle these little sisters!"
"Report these figurines as materials, and the money you get back is enough for you to buy new little sister figurines."
Itsuki widened his eyes, ostensibly struck by lightning.
"…These figurines are used in the work. They're proper 'research materials'. I'll leave them to you."
"Fufufu…leave them to me."
Ashley nodded in satisfaction.
And then, she turned her eyes upon the cabinet with the anime blue ray DVDs and gaming software.
"You bought a lot of girls. What kind of game is 'this little sister who loves her older brother always wears her older brother's underwear on her head while itching the ditch'?"
"……It's a game about a little sister who loves her older brother always wears her older brother's underwear on her head while itching the ditch."
Itsuki's face was completely beetroot, but he did his best to remain calm, and flatly answered Ashley, who was giving a sadistic look.
"So what's this 'No, we're siblings! How can we do this! ~ a pretty little sister wife trapped in a forbidden relationship and unable to stop herself~' game?"
"It's a game about a pretty little sister wife trapped in a forbidden relationship and unable to stop herself."
"So, what's a little sister wife?"
"The little sister is the wife."
"Such a complicated concept…ah, 'counterattack of the older brother ~ a year passed since this little sister was by an anteater~', what is this?"
"It's a shitty game. No little sister showed up."
Itsuki was completely peeved, and answered in annoyance.
"Isn't it written that she was killed by an anteater? What's about this 'Pakoimo'?"
"A rhythm game played with a little sister. The ending is so moving, it brings me to tears."
"'I'm the little sister, it's not strange for me to be eating my older brother's shit, right?'…isn't this weird?"
"It's because it's weird that it's great."
"…I'm rather impressed that you're able to say this so boldly."
After checking through everything, Ashley returned to her seat, and started checking the invoices on the credit card. Itsuki knelt on the floor, waiting for the result.
"Hmm…it appears have you have bought a lot of stuff on Amazon. I shall settle the reconciliation work at the office…these 400 Yen and 600 Yen transactions are all on electronic books?"
"Yeah. The smaller transactions should all be electronic books."
"Did you print the receipts?"
"I guessed so…they probably wouldn't check the transactions to such a detail, but soon after, there might be a need to use them, so prepare yourself."
"And…you do make payments to the iTunes shop from time to time. For music?"
"! So-something like that."
Itsuki stammered for some strange reason, and Ashley noticed it, for she interrogated,
"…You spent almost ten thousand yen. You don't have to spend that much on albums, right?"
"…Other than music, I bought a few magic stones."
Itsuki sheepishly looked away.
"A paid item needed to pull the gacha of a social game."
"Ahh…I do remember a few of my authors clients playing such games."
This social network game, to define it distinctively, would take forever. At this point, the definition would be 'a game that can be played on smartphones or traditional phones'.
Compared to video games, most of such games could be played through spare time, and the system is simple.
Most of such social games have a system called 'gacha' that is similar to the lottery that allows gamers to obtain cards, items, characters and so on. Such games typically earn through sales of the special items needed to roll the gacha (like 'magic stones', 'spirit stones', 'soul gems', and so on, and the names differed from game to game)
"So, what kind of game are you playing?"
"…Imoregi'…'Little Sister Legion'."
"I can roughly guess what kind of game it is just from hearing the title."
"…It's probably what you think."
This 'Little Sister Legion' is a social game designed for the smartphone, and as the name implied, many little sisters appeared. It's possible to draw little sisters from the gacha, but amongst them, there are rare, overly valuable little sisters. To draw them will require not only luck, but lots of magic stones.
The system's very simple. One had to wonder if such a thing could be considered a 'game', and there was hardly any plot. There were lots of little sisters, but the settings and lines given to every little sister was very weak.
…Itsuki himself understood very well that this game was a scam.
Itsuki knew that playing other social games, like 'Dragon Puzzle' or 'Chain Chronicle' of recent years, and many other games no inferior to homeport games would earn him much more joy.
Though he knew this—
"…You invested quite a bit on this game."
"…Yeah, at this point, there's no turning back."
Itsuki gave a blank look as he answered Ashley, who kept checking the transactions.
When he first played this game, Itsuki spent XXX thousands of yen just to get the little sister he liked. At this point, that money would be wasted if he chose not to play. Thus, even though he wanted to quit, he could not.
"…Ca-can magic stones be considered as expense?"
Itsuki looked over at Ashley with a hopeful look.
"Is this game used in your work?"
Itsuki gave a serious thought about it for several seconds.
"…I can conclude that it's not used on my work at all."
And he answered with a pained look.
"…There's no plot in this game, to say. There's a lot of little sisters appearing, but every character only has some short lines and sketchy settings, so it's hard to have strong feelings for them…these things aren't little sisters…just .jpeg files with the labels 'little sisters' on them…"
Itsuki trembled as he clenched his firsts, and Ashley asked with a frigid tone,
"Really? Then try using it."
"Even if you ask me, how am I supposed to use this?"
"What's your next book going to be?"
"…? Fifth volume of 'Little Sister Magic War'."
Itsuki answered with some trepidation, and Ashley pondered.
"…That novel's currently at the point where the protagonist is trapped by enemy forces and caught in a critical juncture, right?'
"!? You read my book?"
"I read all the books of my clients that were released last year. I started reading this one from the third volume, so I'm not too sure about the details."
Ashley nonchalantly commented.
"Leaving that aside, the important point is how do I report magic stones as expenses. Just let the protagonist in despair say some things like, 'Uu, looks like there's very little chance of suriving. About the same as getting a rare character in the gacha of a social game…'"
"W-wait a moment!"
"The protagonist of the Little Sister Magic War is a cruel black knight who abandons everything to fight in the world of darkness to protect his one and only little sister…!" "If he has a little sister fetish, that's better. The lines can be refined, 'feels like I just drew a rare little sister in the Little Sister Legion gacha'. That'll make it perfect."
"That'll ruin his image!! He's a black knight fighting in the world of darkness, okay!"
"So, a cruel black knight fighting in the world of darkness, what has that got to do with playing a social game?"
"Of course there is…! It's a matter of life and death, and you use the metaphor of a social game gacha system? Doesn't that imply that he's a player who's completely sucked into whaling?"
"I think this cold hearted black knight having such an unexpected side is fine."
"…It's true that it's common to have a cold-hearted character show an unexpected side to create the joy of gap moe…uu…"
Itsuki pondered over this for quite a while.
"I-I guess not! A protagonist who spends lots of money on social gaming doesn't have any charisma no matter how I look at this!"
"In that case, it's fine to have someone other than the protagonist say this, no? For example, doesn't the protagonist have a sworn enemy. Have him fight the protagonist, and say something like 'hmph…the only times I can feel my blood boiling, are when I'm fighting you or playing social games'. How about that?"
"That'll just mean that it's the rival and not the protagonist! There's way too little depth for anyone who says such things! That means that the protagonist who's cornered by such a guy will be even more cornered!"
"You really have a lot of demands…in that case, anything goes. Just make sure the social game in mentioned in your work."
"I can't! End of the day, 'Little Sister Magic War' is a fantasy! Won't the setting collapse once I mention a social game?"
"So what if the world setting is a little ruined?"
"That's fine for you too!?"
"…Which is more important, the completion of the work or tax exemptions?"
"Of course it's the work completion!"
"Goodness…and that's why you're an author."
Yare yare, Ashley shrugged
"Ugh, why did you make it look like my fault…."
"Guess I have no choice then. I'll just come up with a random reason for the expenses on the social game."
"If you could, couldn't you have done that right from the beginning!?" Itsuki screamed instinctively.
After that, Ashley did some detailed questioning into the credit card and the invoices, loudly read out what Itsuki bought and downloaded from the internet, and finally went back.
Itsuki collapsed onto the kotatsu, groaning.
To be honest, he felt more taxed than he did filing his own taxes. On this day, he had no motivation to do anything else.
—I'll never hire this tax manager again.
Itsuki swore in his heart.
Three days later, Itsuki received an email from Ashley, was notified on the total amount of rebate, and widened his eyes in shock. It was almost three times the amount he got back the previous year.
"Undoubtedly talented, and very reliable."
At that moment, he realized that Haruto was telling the truth, and the reason as to why there seemed to be a different meaning behind those words.
She was very talented and reliable…but Ono Ashley's a super sadist.
…A super sadist she was…but very reliable in her work.
If she took up the case of an author, it seemed she would read the work, investigate everything thoroughly, including what games were bought, and it seemed it wasn't simply because she enjoyed bullying others…so he thought. That would be for the best.
—Then, I shall rely on you from now on.
After much hesitation, Itsuki wrote this last at the end of the email reply, and clicked on the send button.
Once he gets his tax rebates, he would use that to buy little sister eroges and figurines.
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