The U.S. is in the thick of tax season, which likely means navigating a forest of financial forms or spending a bundle on tax-prep services. But no more, says MSCHF. The group of art provocateurs has created a video game to help users file their federal income taxes easily and for free, with the help of some flirty anime characters.
Launching April 4, Tax Heaven 3000 is billed as a “visual novel dating game” that invites players to charm and romance either Iris, “a delightful girl-about-town,” or Turbo, “an unsavory SaaS bro.” In between dates at an office, library, or cafe, they will be guided to prepare their individual or joint income tax returns, with the characters checking their eligibility for tax credits and ways to maximize deductions.
Seductive come-ons are scattered throughout the animated experience. “I’m filing singly this year,” goes one; “I want to know something about you that’s really personal,” says another: “What’s your Social Security Number?”
Once prepared, the returns can then be printed and submitted to the IRS. “If you file your taxes in the game,” the work promises, “you file your taxes in real life.”
As with most of MSCHF’s drops, Tax Heaven 3000 isn’t just about fun and games, but attempts to lift the lid on corporate greed. In particular, a manifesto that accompanies the game takes aim at tax preparation services such as TurboTax, calling them “predatory, parasitic bottlenecks that deliberately complicate the tax filing process in order to make it unnavigable by ordinary people.”
The statement added that the likes of TurboTax feed off the “fear, uncertainty, and doubt” of regular citizens—hence the counterpoint of Tax Heaven 3000, which has instead been “built on parasocial desire for intimacy and benign horniness!”
Because most wealthy countries do not charge for tax filing, the game is likewise available at no cost on Windows or Mac via Steam. For those happy to splash out, there’s a $90 collector’s edition, which includes a physical game box with a CD, an IRS mailing envelope, and a five-foot body pillow printed with Iris’s image.
This new drop follows MSCHF’s increasingly high-profile run of antics, such as releasing Nike Air Maxs piped with human blood, putting up for sale 999 fake Andy Warhols, and installing an ATM at Art Basel Miami Beach that displayed the bank balances of the fair’s attendees.
Most recently, in February, the group landed yet another viral hit by clowning the fashion and celebrity world with oversized red boots.
“It is in MSCHF’s nature to participate, even when we are critiquing or satirizing,” Kevin Wiesner, one of the collective’s core members, told Artnet News’s Taylor Dafoe last year. “We’re looking at the places where commerce gets funky and wanting to abuse or intervene. We want our intervention to hit the exact same people who are living there in the first place.”