Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 1999 /17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760
You have a right to see your tax forms!
DEAR BRUCE: I have been married for 17 years. In that time, I have never seen how much my husband earns or how our tax return is filled out. He makes me sign the blank tax forms and then he takes them to his office and fills them out himself. Every time I ask about it, he gets upset, and I wind up backing down. Is it proper for him to withhold information about our taxes from me? I am a stay-at-home mom, and I feel that I should be allowed to know what is in those documents. -- A Terribly Frustrated Wife, via e-mail
DEAR TERRIBLY FRUSTRATED: What your husband is doing is not only legally incorrect, it is morally incorrect. The only weapon you have is to say, "I won't sign this unless I see the tax return when it is complete." Your husband is likely to "blow up" with that news, which is something you will have to take into consideration. I have no patience for people -- like your husband -- who withhold information from a spouse. If, for example, he were to die before you do, you would have no idea of the state of the family affairs. This is completely wrong!
DEAR BRUCE: After graduation, I found it difficult to find a job that paid decently and fell behind on my student loans. They have now been turned over to a collection agency. I originally owed $13,500, but now the agency says I owe $29,300 and counting. The collection agency has started to garnish my wages. Recently, I was given a gift of $10,000 by a relative. I called the Department of Education and tried to give them this money to finish off the loan, but they are not willing to negotiate. They say that the matter is out of their hands. Is there anything I can do? -- K.P., Norman, Okla.
DEAR K.P.: If I were you, I would get together with a good attorney and let her negotiate. The collection agency probably bought this debt for very little money. With a $10,000 lump-sum payment, you should be able to buy your way out.
DEAR BRUCE: I am a 44-year-old single parent who is self-employed and has an 8-year-old child. I sold my home in 1990, and since then I have been renting for $1,100 a month. I have saved $195,000, including my own investments, which I am hoping to use for my retirement and my child's education. I continue to invest $8,000 annually. The question is, should I buy a home? I plan to retire at age 55 or 60 and move to an affordable retirement community in another part of the country. -- F.L., via e-mail
DEAR F.L.: It would seem to me that the first question to ask is, what would a house cost in your area? The $1,100 seems like a very high rent ticket for two people. It may be that you are in Silicon Valley or some other part of the nation where the cost of housing is out of sight. If that is the case, I would be very leery about buying a home at those inflated prices. If something happens to that market, it may go kerplunk! You are doing very well with your investments, and I would continue to do what you're doing. If you are truly planning on retiring at the age you mention, it might be to your advantage to seek out a more reasonable rental, so as to increase your nest
Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).
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09/15/99: Teen drivers drive up insurance
09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
09/08/99: How do I roll over my 401(k)?
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09/01/99: When your company can't pay you
08/30/99: Beware of shady viatical investments
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08/19/99: 100 percent financing is a scam
08/16/99: Will I have to pay a capital gains tax?
08/16/99: Thinking about PMI
08/13/99: Short-term mutual funds a-OK
08/11/99: It's your job to shop around
08/10/99: Sometimes, roots need to be uprooted
08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
08/03/99: Reverse mortgages good for the elderly
08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...