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by Abigail Van Buren

Tax Preparer Urges Parents to Leave Deductions at Home

DEAR ABBY: I have been preparing tax returns for 15 years. In all this time, I have seen many people from all walks of life. My pet peeve is people who bring their children with them when they have us prepare their taxes. I have had children unplug my computer, spill drinks on my desk, run around as if my office is a play school -- and their parents do nothing to discipline them. I find it impossible to concentrate when a child is screaming or crawling under my desk.

People have 3 1/2 months to get their taxes done. During that time, I know they could find a baby sitter for a few hours. It would make my job so much easier.

My job is stressful. I will do no less than 500 tax returns between now and April 15. Often people must wait for hours in our office just to be seen. In that environment, children become very restless. We are more likely to make a mistake if we have to baby-sit children while figuring taxes.

So, Abby, PLEASE inform your readers to leave their kids at home. If necessary, exchange baby-sitting services with a neighbor, relative or friend while you get your taxes done. It could result in a larger refund, less time spent, and everyone being a lot happier. -- TAXED TAX PREPARER

DEAR TAXED: Your comments make a lot of sense, and I'm sure you're not the only tax preparer who faces this problem. Business offices are not set up to accommodate young children, regardless of how well behaved they may be. Active children cannot be expected to sit silently for long periods of time as adults can. Not only is it unfair to the little ones, it can also be a nightmare for adults who are trying to work.

If parents heed your advice, everyone will benefit.