Fear of Accountants

It seems that there are as many phobias as there are things to be phobic about. The most common include fear of doctors, fear of heights, fear of dentists, fear of spiders, fear of open spaces, fear of closed spaces (should these people marry and have children, even things out?).

These phobias are legitimized by having multi-syllabic names. Excellent. I love learning new words, even if I retain them for only a couple of minutes. In a few cases, the “scientific” names are not quite as informative as one would hope. Downright misleading at times. Fear of heights: acrophobia. No help in identifying the source of that fear. Fear of acrobats? I guess acrobats perform at heights, so these is a loose connection there. But acrobats would not have acrophobia. Oh, well.

I suffered through four years of high school Latin, and could not find one helpful association. Maybe it’s a Greek derivative. Four years wasted. Coulrophobia means a fear of clowns. We all know arachnophobia, a fear of spiders. Years and years ago there was a movie by that that name, so it’s a familiar term to many of us. 

Straying to the more esoteric. The second most common phobia in the entire world, fear of snakes: ophidiophobia. Seriously? Tropophobia is an aversion to the sight of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps. This might be a useful definition only for contestants on “Jeopardy,” or teenagers examining their pores at high magnification. As for phobias associated with various professions; iatrophobia, fear of doctors; odontophobia, fear of dentists. Finally– a name that makes sense.

But to address the premise of this blog: fear of accountants. There really and truly is a legitimate name for this unfortunate malady: chrematophobia. Sadly, I am a victim of the condition. Why am I so unnerved by these talented professionals? I had heard them being referred to tangentially in conversations about investments, tax preparation, IRAs, on and on. My friends led me to believe they (the accountants, not the friends) had magical powers and could solve any problem thrown their way. I think they did not have the problems that I do.

Over the years I’d been given tutorials by my husband on how to balance our checkbook. This involved two computer programs (one inappropriately named “Quicken”). His system was inordinately complex, included paper backup of computer data, categorizing every item on an American Express bill, labeling, filing, generating reports. These computer sessions often ended with someone in tears, usually me.

There was never a session on tax preparation. It probably would not have helped, but in retrospect it was a major omission. After my husband’s death I tackled paperwork that I found stowed in file drawers around the house. Financial records were meticulously kept, organized, and cross-referenced. Income tax returns for 1975-2018 were filed chronologically. I had never received any instructions from him about what paperwork was needed.  Preliminary encounters with “my” accountant, previously “our” accountant, left both of us quite rattled.

There has never been an intellectual exercise that has made me feel so inadequate and miserable. Similar to how golf made me feel before I gave it up. But I digress. Any request for an important document from the accountant sent me into a tailspin. Had I not recognized its significance and thrown it away? I’m an anti-hoarder; anything not nailed down is likely to be discarded. And if I’d kept said document, what in God’s name had I done with it? Even scanning things into the computer did not make them easily retrieved. On Macs, in the bottom left corner of the monitor in the tool bar, is a half blue, half grey square smiley face called a “Finder’—a bit of Macintosh humor. This poor little guy whirred around and did his best to try to help me, but was rarely successful (not his fault).

My accountant had the patience of a saint, although his sense of humor was wearing a bit thin at the end of our journey. Yet with skillful use of extensions we completed 2019 Federal and State returns. Next came the intimidating United States Estate and Generation-skipping Tax Return. This was much more tedious, but was completed, also with an extension, I think. And I’m led to believe yet another Estate Tax Return is to be done. Words fail me.

As usual, I close with the request: pray for me.

3 thoughts on “Fear of Accountants

  1. Sally – your predicament sounds like what would happen to me should Faye predecease me!! She has always managed all of the finances, taxes, investments, accountants, etc. and showed me where to sign each document. She also has a mysterious (to me) methodology for assigning incredibly secure passwords (meaning I could never guess them and I suspect most hackers would pull out all of their hair trying), so no way to unlock all of those secrets. Dave

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  2. Not to worry, until/unless the IRS agent bangs on your door, bringing charges (and fines) of “tax evasion”  (or maybe just “tax aversion”)!  The entire process of preparing one’s returns is, in itself, much too “taxing”!

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  3. Filing an estate is complicated. I was fortunate to have a brother who is a lawyer who did it.
    We are praying for you.

    Mike and Honour

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