A collection of timber rectangular prisms stacked up from the ground was the simplest type of shelter one would find in the imperial capital. The imperial capital offered the most resources and opportunities in the entire nation, but neither of those had anything to do with the lower class. While others were enjoying the glory and wealth the empire provided them with, the people in the lower class area toiled non-stop to eke out a living. That said, it did provide shelter from the harsh weather; there were people leading even harsher lives.
Irena took in a big breath and knocked a wooden door that was so thin one would think that they put it together using the bare minimum amount of timber necessary. She went to many places in the world with Lin Dongqing but never the second floor of a small building or met people from the lower class as she was a venerated Princess.
A girl around Irena’s age, dressed in a camisole that couldn’t even cover her developing breasts, opened the door. As a result, Lin Chucheng averted his gaze. It was a pity the fair girl didn’t embody youth or energy. Instead, she looked worn out as though she was dealing with a burden she didn’t need to.
“Oh.” Identifying her visitors from Irena’s badge, the girl rudely shut the door on them.
Unsurprisingly, Irena thumped on the door and shouted, “Open up! Open up! I am a tax officer. You have not paid your taxes for two quarters. If you delay your third quarter, as well, you will be held liable by the law. If you also delay payment in the fourth quarter you will be imprisoned! If you open up and pay, then you will be fine! If you continue delaying, the law will force you to pay!”
Meanwhile, Lin Chucheng awkwardly looked around. Irena didn’t appear to be one to consider consequences from his perspective. He was worried she’d disturb the neighbours if she was so rowdy… Irena never considered those possibilities, however.
Irena kept knocking and reciting the regulations. No, she wasn’t threatening the girl. She was merely stating the laws. Delay for three quarters and the law would confiscate her belongings, including her savings in the bank, debts, property ownership and every other asset. Delay for four quarters, and she’d have to hit the slammer. Once she was released, she’d be given a job, but she’d only be permitted to spend just enough to get by. The rest of her earnings would be taken until she repaid her debt. She’d also lose all of her rights as a citizen, which included insurance and medical services offered, and custody. If she opened up and paid, then she’d just receive a warning. If she delayed any further, she’d become a slave to capitalists, working for free.
The girl yanked the door open. Irena thought she finally got through to her and succeeded; however, the girl didn’t appear. Instead, she tossed out some coins and shoddy paper money. Oh, and she erupted, “Get lost. That’s all I have left! Take it if you want! I don’t have anything worth money left, anyway! Now get lost!”
Lin Chucheng: That’s overkill, I reckon. She’s the reigning Princess. If Irena gets angry, she really could kill you.
Eventually, Irena crouched down and picked up the money, silently counted it then knocked again. She composed herself and solemnly explained, “Miss, you have only paid one hundred and seven D. You still owe fourv hundred and seventy three D. We will come around again tomorrow. I hope you will be prepared by then.”
There was no response from the interior, so Irena said to Lin Chucheng, “Let’s go now. I don’t think she plans to pay.”
“Yeah…” Lin Chucheng was rather dumbfounded. That was not what he expected his job would be. He thought he just needed to deliver documents and whatnot, only to find out that he was supposed to force people to pay taxes the way taxes would.
Why doesn’t that girl pay taxes? Wait, wait, she’s only come of age; she’s not even an adult. She shouldn’t be working yet at her age. If she worked, it’d only be enough to buy herself small presents. She can’t possibly earn enough to repay her taxes. Her files said that she has a mother. Where was her mother? Out work-
Lin Chucheng lost his train of thought when he rear ended Irena. “S-sorry.”
Instead of bothering with Lin Chucheng, Irena knocked on the neighbour’s door. Lin Chucheng asked, “Are they delaying their taxes, too?”
“No, I just need to investigate why she won’t pay her taxes.”
On paper, Irena’s job for the day was done. A tax officer had no obligation to think about how to help someone go from the slums to a life of luxury. If they didn’t receive the taxes owed, they could just confiscate. If a tax officer had fulfilled their duty, they didn’t have to take responsibility. Howbeit, Irena remember what her senior said. A tax officer wasn’t meant to focus on just taxes but the reasons. It was of utmost importance to Irena since Lin Dongqing wrote it in the book.
“Na, was it your friend?”
“Mom, why are you up? Hurry and lie back down. You are still sick. It’s okay, Mom. They were just trying to sell some newspapers.”
“I see. Na, you don’t need to be so angry. We are all just trying to make a living. Just turn them down; there’s no need to be aggressive.”
“Understood, understood, Mom. Lie back down. Leave it to me. I promise to earn enough money to cure you. I promise!”
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