Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 25-year-old single woman. Recently, I went on a date with a 32-year-old man from Nigeria. The date was very nice -- we went to a Nigerian restaurant, and I tasted the cuisine for the first time. He talked to me about his life at home and shared interesting things about his culture. As the conversation went on, I learned that his expectations in a relationship are quite different from mine. For example, he believes his girlfriend/wife should adjust her career goals to accommodate her boyfriend/husband's goals, but not vice versa. Part of me is interested in getting to know more about him, but the other part is not sure that he is someone I should date. What should I do? -- Searching, Racine, Wis.

DEAR SEARCHING: Don't give up yet. It is true that different cultures have different points of view about life, family, work, etc. The point about Nigerians believing the female's work goals should be less important than the male's is not unique to that culture. Indeed, plenty of Americans still believe that. What is certain in a relationship is that clarification is important about such issues in order for you to find peace.

If you like this man enough to go on another date, invite him to a restaurant that reflects your taste and interests. Share some of your ideas on family, work and the future. Be honest as you communicate, and tell him when you feel you have reached a roadblock. See what unfolds.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am responding to "Tax Snafu Threatens Student's Financial Aid." The college student should not stand for this treatment from the tax preparer. As a CPA and tax preparer for over 30 years, I am appalled at such a ridiculous situation.

The tax preparer should have given the student a copy of the return before it was e-filed, so that she could review it before signing the e-file authorization. This apparently wasn't done.

I cannot imagine what kind of a software glitch would prevent the tax preparer from printing out a copy for her. The worst-case scenario would be that she would have to take her tax information and recreate the return. That is, unless the software is totally fried, in which case they would be out of business for the rest of tax season. I doubt if that is the case.

It would appear that the tax preparer is simply too busy to stop what he or she is doing to help the college student, and is taking advantage of a vulnerable client. The preparer made the mistake, so he or she should take whatever course is necessary to fix it. The student should call the IRS Taxpayer Advocate office in her area immediately to file a complaint. She can go to and look up the number.

These kinds of activities by "nationally known tax preparers" are exactly why the IRS wants to regulate tax preparers. The public should not assume that being nationally known means competent, professional or ethical. -- Disgusted CPA, Des Moines, Iowa

DEAR DISGUSTED CPA: The scary part for many people is that when they do go to what is considered a reputable tax preparer and they end up with such a mess, they do not know where to turn next. Now that the rule is to file electronically, it should make the transaction simpler. This is just not always so.