DEAR ABBY: I have been married for 36 years to a woman who is a pediatric physical therapist. A number of her youngsters are disabled or abused, and their lives can be a struggle. This results in emotional, intense workdays for my wife. She brings these stories home and shares them with me.
Over the years on three or four occasions, I have either told her I didn't care to hear an emotional story that day, or ignored her when she tried to tell me. The last time I said it was last year, and now she refuses to tell me anything about her workload. She's very stubborn, and although I am interested in what she does, she won't let me apologize. She says she will discuss it only with her fellow therapists at work.
Abby, what can I do to convey to her that I want to share her experiences? — REGRETFUL IN GEORGIA
DEAR REGRETFUL: If you haven't been able to get through to your wife by now, probably not much.
There's a saying that a joy shared is twice a joy and a burden shared is half a burden. When she tried to confide what was weighing on her mind or heart on those occasions, your response was, frankly, unkind. Further, if the treatment she's giving those children is covered by HIPAA regulations, it's possible that the only people she should talk to about them are her colleagues.
I wish I could be more helpful, but it looks like you may have to find another way to be intimate with your wife besides discussing her workload.
DEAR ABBY: As chairman of the American Institute of CPAs' Tax Executive Committee, may I offer some clarification to you and your readers about your answer in your July 13 column titled, "Couple Deep in Tax Hole Need Help in Climbing Out"?
In fact, three groups of tax preparers have unlimited practice rights under Department of the Treasury regulations to represent their clients on any matters before the IRS — certified public accountants, attorneys and enrolled agents.
None are more qualified than CPAs. CPAs are licensed by state regulators and must meet minimum education requirements to sit for their national licensing exam and then fulfill ongoing continuing education requirements, as well as abide by a code of professional ethics. Attorneys have a generally similar system.
Enrolled agents are often former IRS employees who are licensed by the IRS after passing an exam. Enrolled agents are competent and respected tax professionals, but the fact they are licensed by the IRS does not mean they are better qualified or superior in serving clients than are CPAs or attorneys.
IRS.gov has a page explaining the different types of tax return preparers and their qualifications, which may be helpful to your readers. — TROY K. LEWIS, CPA
DEAR MR. LEWIS: Thank you for the clarification and for expanding my reply to that letter. It was not my intention to imply that CPAs are less qualified than enrolled agents — and if I created that impression, I sincerely apologize.