Irs – Goddess of Tax Returns

Drawn in the red-on-black style of Ancient Greek pottery. The goddess Irs is wearing a pleated robe and carries a tally stick. In the other hand she carries a sack of coins, which is leaking into the mouth of a fat cat. Irs has wings shaped like a portcullis and she bears a resemblance to Queen Elizabeth II.
Irs © H.Hudson-Lee 2022

Irs was not born from a union of between Gods, Elementals or even Mortals, but of political expediency. She originated during the Old Kingdom Period of Ancient Egypt. In order to fund the building of royal tombs, the Pharaoh established her sect and appointed priests to raise revenue from his subjects. They were under immense pressure to complete this task for their king, for without a generous income, H.M. got arsey. This was a massive undertaking. So, these priests recruited a team of collectors who would gather the payments on their behalf, each keeping a small percentage of the revenue raised as payment. These collectors were overwhelmed with the magnitude of the task of visiting every household in Egypt, and so themselves recruited teams of underlings who pocketed an even smaller percentage. Thus both taxation and the literal pyramid scheme were invented simultaneously.

The concept of taxation gradually spread around the world, and the worship of Irs alongside it. She was readily adopted by the nascent democracy of Athens to help them fund their military campaigns and elegant public buildings. Eventually, the world’s population grew to the point where it was not possible to individually judge what every person should pay. This led to a seismic theological shift in the faith of Irs. Their religious philosophy became one of self assessment and honest judgement of one’s own worth. This goddess doesn’t judge you. You judge yourself, and then she decides whether you did it right. This is why, when they die, her followers are buried with their accounts, receipts and bank statements from the last five years, and an anxiety attack. Hopefully, all will be in order, and their soul will be allowed to fly west to the Isle of Tax Haven. Some scholars of mythology believe that the legends of the Isle of Tax Haven grew out of early seafarer’s tales of Isle of Man.

When a young person is inducted into the sect of Irs they undergo a ritual similar to baptism. Only, instead of using a font, they use a VAT. Many years of study lie ahead for the neophyte. First they must become familiar with the Book of Acts and the Tax Codex. These are anthologies of the scriptures which outline the rules for calculating what each citizen should pay, but they are written in an arcane language, comprehensible only to the cognoscenti. The Book of Acts has chapters with mysterious titles like, “The Income Tax Act 2007”. These students must also master the skill of tax-calculus, a branch of mathematics so fiendishly difficult that it is reported to have reduced students of Kabbalah, theoretical physicists and Carol Vordeman to tears. Tax Calculus is used to derive the assets under the mattress. Finally, they must develop a perfect perpendicular posture by going around with a pile of ledgers precariously perched on top of their polls. Being able to balance the books is the most important skill of all. Eventually Irs’s worthy acolytes graduate to become Chartered Priests. A few of the more esoteric types will join “Outland” sub-sect, who mainly concern themselves with excising ancient customs and enjoy the privilege of being religious duty free when they travel abroad. The most gifted students go on to be appointed to the highest echelon of her cult, the Inspectors. Those who fail their final exams are considered to be a write-off.

The temples of Irs are known as “Treasuries”. They are recognisable by their portcullis entrances with the Crown of Irs carved into the stonework above (known as The Government Gateway). The floors inside were originally tiled with black and white flagstones in a chequer pattern, but this has now fallen out of fashion, so they are now ex-chequers. The temple cats of Irs are renowned for being phenomenally fat felines. Heckin’ chonks. Absolute units. They live by skimming off as much cream as they can from the temple’s milk supply before getting caught. Each temple is presided over by a high priest or “Chancellor”. Irs has two major and four minor “quarter” festivals each year. Their most important festival occurs on January 31st, the sacred day of Self Assessment. It is traditional for Irsians to send one another greetings cards with the message, “Many Happy Returns”. On April 5th they celebrate their New Years festival by closing their books.

Some folks mistakenly think that they can win the favour of the goddess by paying their taxes with a smile. They are incorrect. Taxes must be paid with cash. The adversary of Irs is a demon who gets people out of paying their full taxes in return for a piece of their soul. Lou Pole and his wealthy followers, “The Evaders” are to be feared and thwarted at every turn. They are the origin of the old Irsian saying, “It is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle, than it is to get a rich man to pay his taxes.” He is aways depicted in sacred art snatching school dinners from hungry children and medicine from the sick. Irsians believe that Lou Pole can be banished by loudly singing the, “Audit Domine”.

Whilst the existence of many deities is open for debate. Irs is one we can be certain of. For there are but two inevitable things in life. Death and Taxes. Unless you’re Queen Elizabeth II, who does not pay tax and, so far, appears to be immortal.

A huge thank you to @ladysixa for suggesting Irs, for being a loyal supporter of Idol Scribblings and for being one of the loveliest humans on Twitter. I am sorry it took so long, but I had to do your excellent concept justice.

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