As Greg Samuels awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a limited liability company. He was lying on his back and when he lifted his head he could see the stack of papers on his desk certifying that his business income would now pass through to his personal tax return, and that he could exclude 20 percent of his income from any federal taxation whatsoever.
What has happened to me? he thought. It was no dream. Above the table on which he’d arranged his latest ad clippings —Greg was a freelance commercial photographer — hung his diploma in a crooked frame, too detailed for sleep. He wondered if the diploma was still valid for Greg Blockchain, as he’d rebranded himself.
“Greg,” said a voice. It was his mother’s. He was a millennial and it was not unusual for millennials to live with their mothers. “It’s a quarter to eleven. Don’t you have an appointment?”
That gentle speech! Greg had a shock as he heard his own voice answering hers, unmistakably his own voice, it was true, but with a persistent horrible sound of a ticker tape machine behind it, like an undertone.
“Yeah, yeah, thanks, Ma, I’m getting up now.”
Yet he found that he could not get up; he felt paralyzed by his new condition. It was one thing for the courts to decree that corporations were people, another thing entirely for people to take on the heady responsibility of incorporation. Now that he was an LLC, he couldn’t take a slapdash approach to his finances anymore. He would get a whole lot of extra cash from the federal government — and then what? He could invest his money in a cryptocurrency, but he was already accepting Bitcoin as payment for his photography, and he knew that it was more prudent to diversify.
Greg tried to suppose to himself that something like what had happened to him today might someday happen to his mother. One really could not deny that it was possible. Not while she had a salaried position at a university, of course, but how long would that last? Eventually the university would replace her with an adjunct, and Greg’s mother would have to fend for herself. It might well make financial sense for her to shed her mortal flesh and become an LLC, or perhaps an S Corp.
If he was going to be no more than the customary fifteen minutes late for his appointment, with the art director at a glossy magazine, he would have to get up right away. Instead he called to say he wouldn’t make it.
“Greg? How are you? You sound strange,” said the art director.
“It’s nothing,” said Greg, over the sound of the ticker tape.
“Wait a minute, I recognize — not you too!” said the art director.
Beyond his sense of overwhelming responsibility, Greg felt ashamed. Would the art director shun him?
On the contrary, he asked Greg for advice and positively gurgled with envy when he heard how much Greg’s tax rate would drop. Greg passed along the name and contact information of his very clever accountant, who’d helped him select the right sort of pass-through entity and walked him through the bureaucratic process.
Emboldened, Greg got out of bed and went to the kitchen to face his mother and little sister, a high school student home for spring break. Greg’s mother took the news in stride; she recognized the virtues of modernity, of seeing which way the wind was blowing, and letting it carry you.
Greg’s sister, however, was horrified. Of course she’d never had to pay taxes and had only the faintest notion of what “liability” meant. It was all an abstract political question to her, and she kept saying, “But it isn’t fair! It isn’t fair!”
“My dear mother,” said Greg’s sister, slapping her hand on the table by way of introduction, “things can’t go on like this. Perhaps you don’t realize that, but I do. I won’t utter my brother’s name in the presence of this creature. No, not creature — what’s an antonym for ‘creature’? Ghost?”
“I’m hardly a ghost,” said Greg, miffed.
“But there are only two certainties, death and taxes. So if you’re not getting taxed, you must be, if not dead, then un-dead. The tax man tries to get a grip on you, but his normally sticky paws pass right through you.”
When Greg argued that he deserved his special status because he was an entrepreneur and arguably a job creator, his sister made a viperous crack about “faux news.”
“Come along, now, do,” said Mother. “Let bygones be bygones.”
Then they all three left the apartment together. The above ground train, in which they were the only passengers, was filled with warm sunlight. Leaning comfortably back in their seats they canvassed their prospects for the future, and on closer inspection, it appeared even to Greg’s sister that these were not at all bad. It dawned on her that Greg might now have enough money to move out of their mother’s house, and that she might soon be able to claim his bedroom, much larger than her own.
Maybe I’ll be an LLC one day, too, she thought to herself. And it was like a confirmation of her new dreams and excellent intentions that at the end of their journey she sprang to her feet first and stretched her young body.