Buying a new house can be one of life's nicer experiences -- until the first tax bill arrives. So it went with Susan Osburn and Jim Hecker of Arlington. But their chagrin has to do with sexism, not money.

Susan and Jim (who are married, despite the different surnames) bought their house in July. The tax bill arrived in September. It was addressed to "Jas. Hecker et ux."

In case your Latin is a little weak, that means "James Hecker and wife." At which Susan took umbrage.

"I am Jim's 'ux,' and I hope I am forever," she told me. "But what if someone else marries him sometime and decides that I don't deserve a share in the house because I'm an ex-ux? And why aren't we listed jointly on the tax bill?"

Good questions, both. So Susan decided to pose them to the Arlington County tax office.

She got the usual Bureaucratic Polka. Her call was transferred to the assessor's office. Then she was transferred back to the tax office. Then she "pooped out and gave up."

But the system shouldn't. It's elementary: a woman who comes up with half the down payment and half of each month's mortgage installment deserves an equal chance to pay half the taxes -- in her own name, if she prefers. Tax officials in Arlington (and other jurisdictions), please note.