Doing taxes has become too taxing for my wife with Huntington’s

Disease progression has made processing math and other information difficult

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by Carlos Briceño |

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If I were to ask people what’s due on April 15, most would say “taxes.”

In my 15 years of marriage to my wife, Jill, I haven’t had to worry about that deadline before. Filing our taxes has been Jill’s job, as she’s always been able to read and understand the new tax laws each year.

Jill recently told me she wouldn’t be able to file our taxes this year because of the progression of her Huntington’s disease. Even if she could, she said, she was worried about making mistakes.

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As she spoke, my first reaction was sadness. I recalled the Benjamin Franklin quotation, “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

After Jill and I were married, she discovered that I’d been paying an accountant to prepare our taxes. I had a great excuse, and I remember quoting Albert Einstein: “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.” I added, “If Albert Einstein had trouble with understanding income taxes, what chance did I have?”

Jill laughed but also acknowledged that she loved the challenge. I was happy to hear this.

Each year, I’d hand Jill all of my paperwork and receipts in a jumbled mess, and she’d put everything together in a neat, easy-to-understand story about what we earned versus what we spent. She liked organizing the jigsaw puzzle of scattered papers, receipts, and bills.

When she told me she couldn’t do our taxes anymore, I asked if I could help double-check the numbers if that was the worry. She said it wasn’t, explaining that her Huntington’s symptoms are causing more issues than just trouble with math. The problem is that her neurodegenerative disease causes certain brain cells to break down. As her neurons degenerate, her cognitive function has started to suffer.

It took me a second to realize what she was saying. It’s not that she can’t do our taxes; it’s that she doesn’t think she can, and she’s too scared about possibly confirming that.

It’s heartbreaking to realize that she understands what’s happening to her. Some days it’s too difficult for her to realize she can’t do things she once loved to do and did well.

She looked so sad that I tried to make her smile by saying she could take comfort in knowing that she still understands more about taxes than I do. She smiled and replied that it didn’t comfort her much because I’d set the bar so low.

I know I won’t be able to stop her skills from diminishing, but I’ll help her in any way I can. Until there’s a cure for what’s happening to Jill, I just wish we could have what former President George H.W. Bush once promised when he said, “Read my lips: no new taxes.”

Note: Huntington’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Huntington’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Huntington’s disease.


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