DEAR HARRIETTE: I was in the middle of dealing with a significant tax problem when the coronavirus pandemic hit. I see that we are getting an extension to file, but I’m worried that any day now I could get a lien in the mail because I owe the IRS a lot of money and have not filed yet. I was already feeling paralyzed by this. Now it’s worse since I can’t really work with my accountant right now. This is my fault, but I don’t know how to get out of it. -- IRS Blues
DEAR IRS BLUES: The good news is that the federal government announced that they are suspending tax liens -- for now. It is unclear how long this extension of grace will last, though. You should get in touch with your accountant and make a plan for finishing your taxes. Find out if your accountant can facilitate a conversation with the IRS to talk about your situation. If possible, you should have the professional on the phone with you, but if you can’t figure that out, make the call yourself. Making a focused effort to handle your situation will show you doing your due diligence even during this crisis. For the latest information on taxes, go to Taxpayer Advocate Service at taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov/taxupdates.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am in a weird position. While most of my friends have lost their jobs, I have seen an uptick in how much work I have to do. My job is secure. My company provides services that are important now, and I am incredibly grateful for this. The problem I am experiencing is that since most of my friends are at home and not working, they want to talk throughout the day and complain about how awful their lives are. I totally get how devastating it is to lose your job, but I do not want to subscribe to the pity party. I don't want to come off as an insensitive friend, but I have no space for endless droning about who did them wrong and how horrible and unfair this is. How can I be there for my friends and maintain my sanity? -- Pariah
DEAR PARIAH: Lead with compassion and clarity. Let your friends know how much you love them and want to support them. Tell them your reality, namely that your company is working now, and your schedule is overflowing. Explain that you cannot talk to them during the day, but you will check in when you can in the evenings and on weekends -- as was likely your routine pre-coronavirus.
Because you already know that your friends are feeling down right now, use technology to send positive messages. Send them group texts featuring fun gifs or emojis. Forward an uplifting quote or funny message that will make them smile. Choose to be positive whenever you communicate with them. Remind them that you love them and want the best for them. If, when you speak, they cannot rise out of their negativity, limit your conversation time. Share your love and words of support, and get off the phone.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)