DEAR READERS: Awhile back, a reader wrote in who had been experiencing hard times for several years. She had fallen way behind in her taxes and bills and had basically been in hiding. I advised her to reach out to the IRS and an accountant to begin making amends.
Well, I received a call from Michael Devine, the IRS spokesman for Illinois, Kansas and Missouri. He wanted to share additional information that may be helpful for that reader and many others.
Mr. Devine explained that the IRS is absolutely eager to work with people and has set up many ways to help taxpayers resolve their issues. To that end, the IRS has a website (www.irs.gov) that offers a wealth of information to guide you in finding answers to your specific questions. A special toll-free phone number is available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays at 800-829-1040 (or 800-829-4059 for the hearing-impaired).
If you want to speak to someone in person who can help walk you through the process, you may do so at one of the Taxpayer Assistance Centers all over the country. To find the one nearest you, click on the "Individuals" tab, then click on the link to "Contact My Local Office" (www.irs.gov/localcontacts/index.html). Or call the IRS at the number above.
I must say, I learned a lot from speaking with Mr. Devine. One of the biggest topics I addressed with him is the general fear people have of communicating with the IRS, especially when they are having financial difficulty. That is why I had recommended that the woman in financial distress first go to an accountant. He assured me that while a tax professional can be a fantastic option, a person in financial straits may not be able to afford that route. He explained that the professionals on the IRS staff at these assistance centers offer their services free of charge.
You also can subscribe to tax tips from the IRS by logging onto public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USIRS/subscriber/new. I think this is information worth sharing.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working with a therapist for several years, and I think it's time for our relationship to end. She has been very helpful to me, but I think we are ebbing now. I realize that it's tough to end this. It feels incredibly awkward. What should I do? I don't want to simply never come back again. -- Breaking Up Blues, Los Angeles
DEAR BREAKING UP BLUES: One of the most difficult relationships to end is with a therapist. I believe it is important to handle all endings with grace. If you can, speak to your therapist directly, either in your next session or over the phone, and tell her you are ready to end your relationship. Thank her for the years of help she has provided. Be firm and grateful. You can also write a thank-you note expressing your gratitude and saying that you think your work together is complete. Fill that appointment time with a useful activity so you don't feel a hole in your schedule.