Ask The Taxgirl

Have a tax question? You can Ask The Taxgirl. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. I get a lot of emails and I read every single one. I’m not ignoring you but yours is also not the only email I’ll get today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. So please be patient. (Sending a follow-up email suggesting that I’m a terrible person for not answering your question immediately does not get you moved to the front of the line: I would think that would be obvious but clearly, it’s not.)
  2. I consider a lot of factors when I choose a question to post. If I notice a similar bunch of questions, I’ll try to answer those first. I also think about the timeliness: if something is making headlines now or affects tax filing, I’m likely to post that before a more general question.
  3. Consider how much information is necessary. I do get questions like “Should I file Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately?” without another word. I’ve also gotten questions that include absolutely every detail, down to a list of dependents. I don’t need your shoe size or your mother’s maiden name. I get that you might fear that you’re leaving something out but don’t worry – if I think I’ll need more details, I’ll ask you.
  4. I won’t call the IRS and find out where your rebate checks are, why your refund isn’t what you expected, or why your return wasn’t accepted as filed. Notwithstanding that I can’t do those things anyway without a Power of Attorney, I’m not your tax attorney unless you have a representation letter from me. So please don’t ask. And don’t send me personal information like your Social Security number out of the blue. Honestly, I’m a good person – just ask my mother. But you shouldn’t take such risks with anyone you don’t know. It’s scary.
  5. I will not redact or edit your question. Be careful with details since your question may be posted on the site. Don’t post anything that you wouldn’t want your mother – or mine – to see, and do not include personally identifiable information (PII) like your phone number or Social Security number (see again #4).
  6. Please don’t call and leave your question on my voice mail. I will not call you back.
  7. I rarely answer state or local tax questions. I just can’t. As much as I’d love to help – and I would – I just don’t know the specific property tax laws in Petaluma or the sales tax rules in Peoria.
  8. Please put the subject of your question in the subject line of your email. I have a spam filter. I have to. Mostly because of, well, you know, evil spammers. My spam filter will almost always dump your email into spam if your email doesn’t have a subject. Try including a word or two in the subject to tell me what your question is about, like “mortgage interest question” or “I don’t have my 1099” – it will help make sure that the emails end up where they need to be.
  9. If you’re actually sitting in an audit, or you’re in a closet while the feds bang on your door, I can’t stress enough how much you need to put down the computer and find yourself a good tax professional right now. Run, do not walk, to the phones and call someone to help you.
  10. I like to talk about being a tax attorney. You can ask questions about that. But don’t ask me for a job, an internship, a reference, or a letter for your mother. I won’t answer you.
  11. If you think you’re being clever by sending your advertisement/promotion/tax treatise/election propaganda wrapped up in the guise of a question, you’re not. You’re just annoying. And rude.
  12. I love answering your questions. I really do. It’s why I do it. But I’m a writer and a lawyer, not a miracle worker. I’m also not a marriage counselor, doctor, or investment advisor. So ask accordingly. You can see my disclaimer here.
  13. I reserve the right to add more caveats – that’s what lawyers do – as we go along, so check back often.

With all of that in mind, ask away! Note that, to protect your privacy, I prefer that you ask questions via email.

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