Taxing Matter

15 Apr

Dear LetterBalm: My husband of 10 years is the keeper of our finances, and I’ve found out we owe thousands of dollars in back taxes. Over the years, he under-reported our income. I’m so mad at him – he’s made things difficult for our family. I’m also mad at myself that I didn’t pay more attention to our money and just let him manage everything. He’s apologized, and we’ve engaged a financial planner/manager to advise us. The problem is my mother who never liked my husband and is criticizing him unmercifully. She’s told the whole family about our situation and won’t stop hammering him, really abusively. I need to resolve this fast. Help!

–Wife of a Tax Cheat

Your story is a cautionary tale of how women shouldn’t leave everything to their husbands and should insist on an active role in family finances and investments. Take a deep breath and stop blaming yourself – you and your husband have made up, and you are rectifying the tax problem and putting your house in order. Since this is tax filing deadline day, Ms. L.B. will gift you with her favorite money mantra: Don’t discuss financial matters with anyone who isn’t involved. If you hadn’t told your mother about your tax difficulties, you and your husband would be spared her vindictive judgment. Resolve to keep private matters private, O.K.? In the meantime, have a confidential talk with mom, just the two of you over a cup of coffee:

Mother, you’ve been pretty vocal about our tax difficulties lately, and the whole family knows. Herman made a mistake and we’re rectifying it with expert help, so you needn’t concern yourself with this anymore. But there is something I must say: I want you to stop criticizing Herman. Just stop. It’s hurtful, cruel and unfair, and after my being married to Herman and loving him more than ever, rather pointless, don’t you think? I realize I never should have said anything to you about our taxes in the first place, and you can rest assured I won’t be discussing our private matters in the future.


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