Ask Amy: A no-cost CPA earns some penalties

Dear Amy: My boyfriend’s dad is a CPA, with decades of experience. A few years ago he offered to do my taxes, due to the sudden complexity because of an inheritance — and I was using cheap software for very basic returns.

Since taking over my yearly filing he has consistently made mistakes that have cost me quite a bit of money. He left off a major account distribution one year; this should have been easily caught by him.

When I discussed the mistake with him, he never acknowledged it was due to his error, nor did he offer to pay the interest I owed.

This year, I decided to start filing my taxes again on my own. As a result, I found out he had given me incorrect advice for all of these years regarding paying my estimated taxes.

He told me it was a suggestion to pay the estimated taxes, but it’s actually required! Again, the software would have told him this and would have also given him the penalty amount I owed.

Not once did he mention the penalty I owed and it’s not on any of the returns he gave me, after filing.

I am upset and feel that he should reimburse me for these mistakes; he offered to do my taxes, he gave me incorrect advice and he never mentioned the penalties I was charged.

In fact, when I contacted him to tell him I didn’t realize I was being charged penalties all these years, I heard nothing back.

My boyfriend believes I should not ask to be reimbursed because although his dad offered to do my taxes, he never charged me for the services rendered.

I disagree. What is your opinion?

— Taxed

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Dear Taxed: You get what you pay for.

In my opinion, your boyfriend’s father does not owe you for the mistakes he made.

These tax returns are filed under your name, with information you supply, and you should review the returns and do your due diligence regarding taxes and penalties before signing and submitting your return.

The IRS requirements on estimated taxes are clear and readily available through a simple internet search.

Penalties should show up on a line on your return, but when reviewing your return, you might have looked only at the “bottom line.”

If you had hired this CPA and signed a contract, he would have also signed your returns, and the IRS could penalize him for making avoidable mistakes — or you could take him to court — but you are still on the hook.

Dear Amy: My wife of 30-plus years won’t stop flirting with a man that works for her, although not in the same office.

He is also married and flirts back.

What bothers me is he has slept with at least one other woman in her office.

He told her that his wife refused to have sex with him.

I have seen texts from both of them, by accident.

Additionally, they do dinners and meetings outside of work when the spouses are “unavailable.”

I told her that this needs to stop but she claims that he is a friend and that she needs his help.

She refuses marriage counseling. I recently learned that she had an affair with another coworker.

She refuses to talk about that as it was too long ago … over 20 years.

I love my wife but really can’t take this disrespect any longer.

In reality, as I near retirement, I feel that I have wasted the best years of my life.

Any suggestions?

— Distraught

Dear Distraught: I hope you don’t genuinely believe that you have wasted the best years of your life, even though you have “spent” these years with someone who you don’t believe is a loving partner.

The best years of your life could be ahead.

You will feel better if you take some of your power back. See a lawyer, commit to counseling, and start making choices that are in your best interests.

Dear Amy: “Hapless Husband” wrote with a suspicion that a guy in his wife’s running group was interested in more than just running.

I used to be an avid runner and ran with a group of around eight people.

Three marriages broke up, as runners spent a lot of time together.

I’m a lucky one — I met my wife while running without breaking up any marriages.

— Going the Distance

Dear Distance: Your response might inspire more than a few readers to shop for running shoes. It’s the endorphins!

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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