I don’t want to let the subject of taxes go without expressing our appreciation for the fat credit we got for installing solar panels. That was a gift from all of you other taxpayers, and we’re grateful. Now that you’ve finally got it right, I don’t think I’d be out of line for mentioning that we like this a whole lot better than that war you’ve been getting us the last God knows how many years, which was the wrong size.

Something else. Once I got done with the preparation and sent it all off to meet its taker, my tax prep software wanted to know if I was interested in learning my chances of getting audited. I’m not particularly afraid of getting audited. If it happens, I will stride into the office with a clean conscience. “I’ve done the best I could,” I’ll say. “You figure it out, and then get back to me.” Which is what I wish they’d do from the get-go, anyway.

Still, I clicked “yes” to the question, and my software then assured me my risk of audit was low. On the other hand, they saw some “areas of concern.” Would I like to see the areas of concern?

Not really. I don’t even like it when my friends tell me they’re concerned about me. It’s never anything good, and it interferes with my avoidance strategy.

But this is just a stupid bunch of software. A stupid, wickedly intuitive bunch of software. I could click “no thanks,” and it would lean back, stroke its beard, arch one brow, and say well then. Okay. I just wanted to ask. Then I could banish its icon from my desktop and send it to its folder, where it would tell all my other documents about me. I hate when that happens.

Fine. Since you must know, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software, yes, I have a business that doesn’t appear to be taking in any money. If you’d take the time to notice, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software, I said that right up front, when you asked the nature of my business, and I typed in “writing.” Do you know what that means? That means that I am employed in the business of distilling my entire life experience and language heritage into little jewels of verbiage to charm the hearts or loosen the bowels of dozens of unnamed souls in the blogosphere, for no remuneration whatsoever. Similarly, I am compelled to concoct gems of humor for the likes of Smithsonian Magazine or The New Yorker, one of which wants humor as long as it isn’t all that funny, and the other of which doesn’t care if it’s funny at all as long as it’s gimmicky enough. And to do this I need to take my natural wit and cook it down till all the funny is rendered out of it, leaving only a thin gruel of light chuckling. Then I must send it out and wait several months for a rejection notice, or–because people in my situation are a dime a peck–an extended silence that I can feel free to interpret as a rejection after an abject half-year or so. I will have you know, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software, that I have been rejected by the best of them, and also by the North Dakota Living Magazine.

And why is this a business? It is a business because it is all in the service of developing an audience for more of my productions, which will also go unremunerated. It is a business because I am writing a novel that I would like people to read, and I have been solemnly informed that I require a platform in order to get anyone to read it. I need to network without appearing to stalk, work the social media without appearing to wheedle, and urge my readers to tell all their friends about me without appearing to snivel, all so that some day people will want to part with a dab of cash for this book I’m writing. And why should they, when they can get so much for free? I have no idea, Mr. Fancypants Tax Software. To be absolutely honest, I don’t even care that much if they do pay, as long as they read it. But you asked if I had a business, not if I had an intelligent business plan.

So thank you for your concern, but if I were you, I’d just grow up and get used to the fact that I’m going to be writing off the cost of my printer cartridges for years to come. Suck on that, Mack.